Saturday afternoon found me sitting at my kitchen table, drinking too much tea, and trying to figure out how to make the story of Abraham G-rated for a third grade Sunday school class.
You can’t get too far in the Bible without coming across some shockingly human behavior. Some just embarrassing, some catastrophic. Eve took the fruit. Cain murdered his brother. Abraham, even after God spoke to him and promised him all the desires of his heart, still tried to make God’s promise come true in his own time, in his own power (and we get the heartbreaking story of Hagar).
The list goes on. The history of Christianity is filled with humans disobeying, disappointing, and rebelling against their Creator.
And yet, for some reason, we can be so shocked when people in the church disappoint us, when they make bad decisions, when they stumble. Or if they have a past that they are not proud of. That they are still dealing with even now.
But the church isn’t a place where people come only after they have their whole life cleaned up and together. If it were, there would be a lot of empty buildings on Sunday mornings. We are all broken. We’re messed up and selfish and willfully ignorant of the things of God. Those who find themselves drawn to a church shouldn’t be those who have the most to show off, but those who are the most aware of their need for God’s grace.
As Timothy Keller writes,
“I will grant you that, on the whole, churchgoers may be weaker psychologically and morally than non-churchgoers. That should be no more surprising than the fact that people who are sitting in a doctor’s office are on the whole sicker than those who are not there.”
The disease of sin manifests itself differently in each of us. It may look like vanity, or lust, or greed, or anger, or violence, or legalism. It may be quietly eating away at us inside. It may be a dull, aching pain. It may be crippling us. But it’s all the same disease.
When Jesus was asked why he spent his time with “tax collectors and sinners” He replied,
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
It is not seeing that we are sick that we should be afraid of; it is the delusion that we are well that hurts us the most. It is in thinking that we are healthy– that we, ourselves, have vanquished this disease for good– that the worst of our symptoms flare into full blown hatred, pride, and judgmentalism.
But there is good news. There is always good news. This sickness of humanity is why Christ came. He came as the surgeon who could finally cure what generations had been merely suppressing. There is no problem too hard for Him. No relationship too broken. No sin that is beyond the reach of His grace and His sacrifice.
In light of that, perhaps the worst thing that we can do when we see someone who is sick, sick with all the heart ache and bitterness of a life trapped in sin, is to judge them. Judge their sickness, blame them for not pushing through and making themselves well. Instead, we should come alongside them and say, “I’m sick too. But I have a wonderful Doctor.”