Rev. Harrison Goodman
The goal of the church is not to see how many people we can write into hell.
The Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. If the Lord has no pleasure in someone going to hell, His church doesn't either. To those of you inside our walls, breathe. Relax. The gate is narrow enough already. It doesn't need to be slimmed down by you making lists of people who make you uncomfortable by sinning too much.
The Lord wants the wicked to turn from their ways and live. It's called repentance, but repentance is not about what you're turning away from. Repentance is about what you're turning toward. The Lord calls us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Christians are those gathered around Jesus, who saves us sinners by His death upon a cross, paying the price in blood for each and every sin of each and every person.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Your salvation isn't founded on your behavior. It's founded on Jesus who died on the cross. Jesus got you here, so you have nothing to brag about. The grace that saved you is the free gift given to all the world. Whatever we would boast in is also given to those we would look down our noses at, cast aside, and condemn. Jesus founded His church to deliver His mercy to the world, not to condemn it. The church is for sinners.
To those of you outside of the church, please know that the goal of Christianity isn't to find reasons we're better than you. The goal of the church is to grant pardon for guilt and peace for shame. Christianity is Jesus. He gathers sinners and forgives them. A church full of sinners is messy and it's hypocritical. We all fall short of the glory of God. We're all just here for mercy. The church hands out mercy, which is why the church doesn't change—it doesn't need to. Jesus still saves. He gives real gifts here. Forgiveness. Peace. Baptism. Salvation. Hope. Love. The church is measured in the forgiveness given to sinners over and over again. I promise there's room for you.
Rev. Harrison Goodman serves as pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Carroll, Nebraska.
Created: May 11th, 2016