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Sinners Make Better Lovers
 

Some churches make it seem as if the goal of Christianity is to make us holy. My problem is the harder I tried the worse I became. Then I remembered why I liked Jesus in the first place. He is the sinner’s best Friend.

 Jesus hung out with some tawdry characters – people who ate and drank too much, shady businessmen, -- even women of questionable repute. He seemed more comfortable with sinners than ‘saints’.

 When a religious leader invited him to dinner, a woman (The Message Bible calls her the town harlot) knelt at his feet, kissing and washing them with her tears. Behind his back, the religious leaders wondered why he didn’t know what kind of woman she was.

 As he so often did, Jesus asked his host a poignant question. Who would be more grateful, he asked, someone who was forgiven a huge debt or a small one? His host said he guessed the person who was forgiven a large one would be more appreciative. Jesus then pointed out that his host had done nothing to refresh him, while this woman had not ceased to do all she could to make him comfortable and to show her gratitude. He then said “those who are forgiven much love much.” The religious people didn’t get it, grumbling amongst themselves at the audacity of one who felt he could forgive sins.

 I recently spoke with a Christian single mom about helping her kids make good decisions. It’s a real challenge. Often, we well meaning Christians ride our kids so hard they feel they must mess up their lives just to break free. I shared with her a scripture I love - one I never heard a sermon on: “Be not overly righteous, nor be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

 Shocking, isn’t it? How can being too righteous destroy us? When she asked me that, I reminded her of a great Christian leader whose dynamic seminars packed out auditoriums for years. But the weight of unrealistic expectations caught up to him. His brother fell into adultery, rumors surfaced of financial irregularities, and the ministry was discredited. Perfectionism is a killer. We can try so hard to be good that we put ourselves under “the law of sin and death.” We get trapped in the religious bondage I spoke of in the last newsletter, creating a downward spiral that leads us into deeper depravity.

 You see, God’s goal isn’t to make us perfect in the way that we commonly think. When the Bible calls us to be perfect, the word for ‘perfect’ means whole and complete. The goal of the law is to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect – perfect in our love for sinners and saints alike. We can easily miss the true goal of the law and settle for behavior modification. Eternal life is more than that. It prepares us for eternity. Heaven wouldn’t be heavenly if it were packed with groups of gossiping religious prudes.

 Sin hurts us, and that’s why God wants to free us from it. But love is the prevailing lifestyle of God’s Kingdom. John Wesley, who had the strictest doctrine on perfection of any theologian, rightly taught that biblical perfection is perfect love. All God’s laws point to love because God is Love and He created us to be like Him.

 A dear friend once taught me a sweet little camp song: “Heaven is, a wonderful place, filled with, glory and grace, I wanna see my Savior’s face, heaven is a wonderful place, I wanna be there.”

 What makes heaven wonderful? Love! Not only God’s love, but incredible love for everyone else as well. That’s why Jesus’ vignette about the town harlot makes so much sense. That’s why his reputation as a wine bibber and friend of sinners draws me. I don’t know about you but I have sinned much. I have a great debt that is forgiven daily. I need grace, again and again. And I need to somehow reconnect with God’s love every day of my life.

 Sadly, such a message is more often heard in new age churches and cults than in Christ’s Church. Churchianity majors in minors and minors in majors. If we could change that, the world would beat a path to our door.

 I once envisioned a church where love reigned supreme, every Christian ministered, and retreats and small groups were committed to love, spiritual growth and nurture. I soon realized I was not called to pastor such a church, but to write and lead retreats and seminars that helped churches do that. I eventually gave up on ever finding a church like that. But I finally saw one: Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Over 45,000 people attended services there Easter weekend. Over 4,000 gave their life to Christ. Why? Because Rick taught them that the goal of the church is to equip people to love sinners and one another.

 A favorite seminary professor used to say “The world has a right to look at the church and see love. Where they don’t they can conclude that the church doesn’t exist.”

 Love is God’s goal for us. It’s far more difficult and immeasurably more blessed than lining up doctrinal ducks and getting everyone to appear squeaky clean. It’s what brings God’s Kingdom to earth. And when that happens, you can’t keep people away. That’s why Jesus is the friend of sinners. And boy am I ever glad he is. We sinners really do make better lovers.

 

Ken Unger is President of OnlyGodsFinest.com and founder of TransformationIncorporated.com, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at  The Ultimate Breakthrough "

 

 
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