We attended church at my parents’ church yesterday, since we’d stayed with them Saturday night. It was a great worship experience, but I noticed by the offertory that my parents’ church is full of sinners.
Admittedly, that’s a “no, duh!” statement. After all, every single church on the planet is full of sinners. However, at my parents’ church, the pastor and congregants actually realize it. They pray with humble hearts for God to forgive their sins, and everyone from the usher who prayed the offertory prayer to the pastor echoed this sentiment. It reminded me of the prayers from my home church that I attended when I was growing up.
Hearing these humble, heartfelt petitions for God’s forgiveness made me realize something else. Our church has no sinners. Well, we do, and everyone at our church knows we are sinners in need of grace, but you’d never know it if you attended a worship service at our church. I haven’t heard that we’re sinners in need of forgiveness in a very long time, if ever. Our pastor gives an invitation that usually says something like, “If you have a decision you’d like to share…,” and maybe he’ll mention something about “Deciding to follow Jesus,” but he doesn’t dare say anything like, “If you need to ask God to forgive you for your sins…” I guess if he did that, we as a congregation might feel compelled to search our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to confront us with our own shortcomings, determining that we need to ask God to forgive us of those sins. In other words, it might dawn on someone that he or she is a sinner and they’ll in turn get mad at the pastor for bringing that realization to light.
It seems that our large, tricked-out, city-fied church could learn something valuable from this small country church in the middle of almost nowhere, and that is, we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. We have God’s grace, and it’s this grace which allows imperfect us to bear witness to the goodness of a perfect God. But we still sin. We still mess up. We still fail to love God with all of ourselves and we fail to love our neighbors as ourselves. We still completely miss living the fulfilled, Spirit-filled lives that God wishes for us. And for that, we need to repent daily and ask God to forgive us.
- Grace and Truth: A God’s-Eye View of Me and You (drgregaustin.wordpress.com)
- Look Who God Let In (dreamprayact.com)
- You Might Be a Sinner If… (therecoveringlegalist.com)