I don't know if you have ever been in that situation, either as the person trying to fade into the background or the person teasing and laughing at them or whispering to the person next to you 'what's she doing here? Do you know what she did?'. It just amazes me that people don't think the church is a place for people who've made mistakes, for the broken, for the 'sinners' because that's exactly why Jesus came. Not for the people who had got it all sussed but for those who were struggling! People exactly like you and me!
Despite what we would like people to think, none of us have got it sussed! All of us make mistakes and all of us sin, sometimes we mess up pretty bad. Wouldn't it be awful if someone then turned round to us and said "sorry, I saw that sin that you did last night, you are no longer welcome in church"! But unfortunately that is what some people experience. Is it any wonder then, that people see the church as hypocritical?
In his book 'What's So Amazing About Grace?' Philip Yancey tells this story:
'A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter - two years old!-to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable - I'm required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.
At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. "Church!" she cried. "Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They'd just make me feel worse."'
This story shocks and saddens me for many reasons but the heartbreaking thing is that her view of church is shared by millions of people, and unfortunately rightly so in some situations. If Jesus were on earth right now, I have no doubt that this lady and her daughter would be someone Jesus made sure he had time for to help her, support her and show her, her value in Him.
Luke 5:30-32 says 'But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”'
The church is the body of Christ, it's about the believers not the building and as the body of Christ we need to be reaching out to anyone and everyone around us and just demonstrate God's love! We need to be doing what Jesus did, because if people can't run to the church for help when they need it most, where can they go?