Today I was reading in the journal Conversations. In an article by Chris Webb he talks about meeting a woman who is a drug addict, a prostitute, and a mother. Chris wonders “where should Michelle go to church?” and explores the difficulty of finding a church where people can go to find Jesus- not once they’ve found Him.
“Michelle needed a twelve-step church.
A twelve-step group like alcoholics Anonymous molds itself around wrecked people who are still struggling and falling, not around those who are already getting life straight. No one would ever sit you down at an A.A. meeting to explain how you are letting the side down: ‘you know, friend, we have our reputation in the community to think about. With all this boozing, you’re a bad witness. Why not get yourself cleaned up a little, then come back and join us?’ …AA exists solely for the desperate drunks, not for the respectable tipplers. After all, as Jesus once observed, it’s not he healthy who need a physician, but the sick.
What, though is the church, if not ‘Sinners Anonymous’? Surely we are called to be a community of recovering sinners–a home for desperate people (like Michelle, like me), who are gripped by but fighting with our destructive addiction to sin. Michelle needed a church where it was possible to say, ‘I am Michelle, and I am a sinner.’ Where it was possible to be open and truthful about weakness and vice, about brokenness and failings. Where virtue was a goal, not an entry requirement. Michell badly needed that church. And so do I.”
I am touched by Webb’s word, because I need that church too, and because I want to be that church to others.
What would you do if someone who was homeless sat next to you in church in ratty clothes and smelling like the sewer?
What if a woman with tattoos and needle marks up and down her arms wanted to attend your Bible study?
How about if someone who was gay asks if he can come to church with you next week?
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect before we come before him, and we shouldn’t expect others or ourselves to be perfect before coming to church.
I am Krista, and I am a sinner. I am “gripped by but fighting with my destructive addiction to sin”. I need a place to be honest about this, and I need to be a person who others can be honest to about this as well.