Often times in our churches it seems as though the majority of those who walk through the doors forget they were once a sinner in need of redemption and that they are, in fact, still sinners albeit cleansed by the blood and set free from the law of sin and death. For some reason church does not become a place where people wounded, broken, and hurting can come for healing and restoration but rather is often a thing which presents a glossy and shiny exterior of what life is like instead of the reality. We see moms who seem to have it all together and fathers who are hip and into the latest techno gadgets. Kids are dressed in Gap and teens post youth group selfies. When I see a building full of people like this, I look around and find myself asking, 'Where are the redeemed?'
Where are the sinners saved by grace? We all fall into that category, absolutely every single one of us, but how many keep living with that fact in mind beyond year one or two of salvation? In our culture, looking good has come to replace sanctification. I can have issues in my marriage or a much to be desired personal walk with Christ as long as I look like I have it all together. How have we gotten this way? How has looking put together replaced falling apart at the feet of Jesus surrounded by those who love us as a brother or sister? What has happened to our church culture that we no longer function like a church but a club?
Yesterday I shook the hand of a man who was once the leader of one of the worst gangs in Los Angeles. Until he got saved. He went from gang leader to holding open the door for me as I exited the building. There is the redeemed. But what would you do if he entered your church, tattoos still visible, a rough exterior not yet smoothed away by Christ's refining hand? Would you welcome him in and exult over the work of Christ? Or would he be told to cover the tattoos and put on a suit because his current style is not how a Christian is supposed to dress? I'm afraid in many places it would be the later. It is as if we have forgotten we are all in the sanctification process and that none of us has arrived. Or that we have forgotten the fact that Christ's transforming work in a person's life is a process, one that takes time, and that suits with ties are not the only thing necessary to enter a worship service with a heart right towards God. Let us love the redeemed, dear brethren, for as such are some of them, such were some of you.