5. No perfect people allowed, only changed people.
Groucho Marx is reported as saying, “I would never want to join a country club that would allow me as a member.”
Sometimes I feel about the Church the same way. I sometimes think that I’m not good enough for the Church, that I could never be a member of the Church because I’m a poor, miserable sinner.
But a poor, miserable sinner is exactly who the Church is for! The Church isn’t for perfect people. One reason is because there are no perfect people. If the Church was for the perfect, there would be no one in the Church!
The Church is to be a hospital for sinners and not a museum for saints. Museums are – or at least used to be – places where you went to look at things behind thick glass and couldn’t touch anything. Hospitals, on the other hand, are places where you go to touch and be touched and be healed.
Museums are places to go to learn things and you may leave them with more knowledge about something that you had going in. But knowledge only takes you so far. You can have all the knowledge of all the museums in the history of the world, but if you have a terminal disease that knowledge won’t do you any good. You will still die.
Hospitals are places where you go in sick and you leave a lot healthier than when you went in. (Even if you die in a hospital, if you have faith in Jesus you are a lot better off than you were when you entered the hospital.)
The Church can’t be a place for perfect people simply because there are no perfect people. But the Church can – and should – be a place for changed people. Not that people who are already changed should find a home in the Church, but that the Church is where you go to be changed.
The Church isn’t the place you go when you’ve “got it all down pat.” The Church is the place you go when you want to “get it all down pat.” But you’ll find that as you continue in the Church “getting it all down pat” fades as a priority because it was too small of a goal or purpose. It will change because everything and everyone is changed in the Church that preaches the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Church is where Jesus Christ changes your heart, renews your mind and transforms your life. Not that the building is special or that the ritual is magical. The Church is where you are changed because the Gospel of Jesus Christ – in Word and Sacrament – are in the Church. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Church and it is the life-source of the Church.
If you want to change your life, then head to the Church – the place for changed people!