a place for sinners
By Paul Mathers
Think of a time when people have really made you feel like you belong.
My step-kids immediately come to my mind. They were both nearly adults when Laurie and I got engaged. Tony was immediately accepting of me. Gina struggled a bit at first, but she very quickly saw how much I love Laurie and she became my fiercest defender. They are my family. I'm not sure I've ever had people so ready to accept me as them. It wasn't based on merit or achievement, it was based on love for their Mom.
Now think of a time when you’ve been excluded.
Scripture has an example of this from the story of Job. Job had suffered unspeakable loss and hardship. His “comforters” come to tell him that he must have some secret sin, some way in which he has fallen short in God's eyes and so is being punished. But Job knows that he is a sinner saved by grace and that he belongs to God.
God did not send Jesus to be our savior because we are good. He did it because He is good. In the Gospel of John, Christ says,
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6.35-37
We only need to come to Jesus, and God is the one who gives us to Him! We do not earn His acceptance. Christ is the only one who could do that, and He will never drive us away!
To a person, the people that Jesus came to save are sinners just like you and me. As has been the case from the beginning of the church, His call is out there in the world, and the people who need Christ are responding to it.
Think of that time when a group of people really let you know that you belonged with them. Think about how that felt. Let's all think about that as we come to worship together, as new people come through our doors and we have the pleasure of meeting those whom Christ has called into His church for the very first time.
They need to know that this is where sinners who know they need a savior belong and that we will not drive them away.