Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can God Use You To Serve Him?

Sadly, there seems to be a group in the church which falls under the "too bad you messed up that bad in your earlier life and therefore cannot have full joy in Christ nor the freedom to serve in the church anymore" category. This group really, really messed up in the past - you know, the serious sins like divorce or premarital sex or homosexuality or thieves or greedy or drunkards or swindlers - the sins found listed in 1 Corinthians 6... and who were part of the church! Bottom line - all in the church have really, really messed up.

In John 8 we read a woman caught in the act of adultery. The sensitive religious leaders of the day haul her before a crowd of people, using her as a test case to trap Jesus. She had, after all, sinned a biggie and she was caught red-handed! After the religious dance takes place, Jesus is found alone with the woman uttering these words: Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.

Jesus shows the church how to deal with the "biggies" - there is no condemnation- NONE - because Jesus bore our wrath. But Jesus also shows those who fall under the "I've messed up" category that there is a lot of room for joy and service. The "go and sin no more" is not just negatively, leave adultery but positively, serve Christ in the fullness of joy. In fact, Jesus is adamant that she GO - get active in serving Him. Jesus did not add "but you cannot serve in this area or this area"! He simply said "from now on sin no more". There is freedom in Christian service as God gives strength and wisdom.

The church needs to work hard precisely at this point: do not ask saved people to do lifelong penance with an evangelical twist. You know, the penance of the divorced who cannot enjoy a Christian marriage (once having followed Biblical directive) or in time, potentially serve as an elder if qualified. Or the one who had a child out of wedlock, never to enjoy a godly husband or a blessed family life. The message to them is simple and unbiblical - you sinned BIG so you cannot have the fullness of joy in the Christian life. If this standard were held before a holy God, then none would serve Him in ministry. Isaiah was a man with unclean lips, but spoke some of the most glorious truths found in Scripture.

What about the following: Abraham, an idol worshipper, became the father of the nation of Israel; Moses, a murderer, became the under-shepherd of Israel; David - the adulterer and murderer - continued to serve God as king and write as the poet; Matthew, the tax collector, became a disciple; and Saul, the persecutor of God's people, became the "least of all" the apostles.

Can God use you in the church to serve Him? Based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, he does not condemn you and says simply: GO - and sin no more. Go and live in the freedom of the gospel, the joy of Christ and the active service among God's people.

1 comment:

Woman in the Tent said...

Very good post. By contrast, wouldn't the person who holds the view that those that "sinned big" can't be used by God, is himself "sinning big" in self-righteousness?!? Thinking of Luke 18:9-14. Thanks for this reminder. Laura