The Church is a Hospital for Sinners

The Church is a Hospital for Sinners

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. Despite being a Hindu, Gandhi admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount.

Gandhi’s rejection of Christianity grew out of an incident that happened when he was a young man practicing Law in South Africa. After studying the Bible and teachings of Jesus, he was attracted to the Christian faith and seriously explored becoming a Christian.

He decided to attend a church service. As he went up to the steps of a large South African Church, an elder barred his way at the door.

“Where do you think you’re going, kaffir?” the elder asked.

Gandhi replied, “I’d like to attend worship here.”

The church elder snarled at him, “There’s no room for kaffirs in this church. Get out of here, or I’ll have my assistants throw you down the steps.”

From that moment, Gandhi decided to adopt what good he found in Christianity, but he never again considered becoming a Christian if it meant being part of the church.

Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Gandhi he asked him, “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?”

Gandhi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” (storiesforpreaching.com)

One of the Church’s greatest problems is poorly representing the Christ we profess to serve. Our judgmental attitudes towards others, while we have sin in our own lives, is clearly seen and turns people away.

The Church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners.  The gatekeepers of the church should be humble representatives of the faith, with the understanding that faith is a journey and not a destination in this lifetime. We are always a work in progress.  If we act as if we have arrived, when it’s obvious that we haven’t, people who struggle with basic issues of faith will struggle to come to faith in God.

The Apostle Paul understood that.  Perhaps that is the reason he was so transparent when he admitted to the Church at Rome that he was a habitual sinner.

No matter how much he wanted to do the right thing, he said he had difficulty following through. He said the very thing he hated, he ended up doing. Paul understood the addictive mind.

Joni Ericson Toda was only 15 when she was permanently paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a diving accident. She was rushed to the hospital for extensive tests and x-rays to determine the extent of her injury.

In her book, “Joni,” she describes her first distressing realization of the grim reality of her paralysis. As she was lay unclothed on a hospital cart, the sheet covering her slipped to the side leaving her partially exposed.

In her modesty, Joni desperately wanting to cover herself, a small task, easily and quickly accomplished before her accident. But now, as much as she tried to make her arms and hands move, they would not respond. Joni knew in her mind exactly what she wanted to do, but her body was totally unresponsive.

Have you ever known right from wrong and you wanted to make the right decision, but before you realized it you’d gone too far or said too much and done what you said you didn’t want to do?

The apostle Paul understood precisely where we live. While there are always consequences for the decisions we make, some that linger for a lifetime, there is also forgiveness and grace to be found through Christ.

Paul once thought he could find God’s acceptance by keeping all God’s rules and making all the right choices, and he eventually realized that was not possible. Then he discovered that God was not out to get him, but was out to love him, even after he failed.

That’s the good news for today. Paul wrote to the Romans, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NIV) He didn’t say there are no consequences for our sin.
Sin kills us physically, emotionally, relationally, financially, and spiritually. However, we need to be delivered from our shame and our guilt. The Lord came to save us from all of this and heal us from the brokenness caused by our sin.  When we come to the Lord and confess our wrongdoing, our need for Him, all of this begins to happen.

It is true. A lot of times, church people do not represent the love of Jesus. We are sinners like everyone else.  Most of us are on a journey to serve the Lord and are trying to be more like Him. Don’t allow the sins of those in the Church keep you from experiencing the grace and love of the God, who can forgive your sins and give you the gift of His Spirit, which continues to transform us into the likeness of Jesus, as we allow.