It’s probably unorthodox for a pastor to say this, but I want to have a church filled with sinners. There are plenty of congregations filled with saints and people pretending to be perfect, but I don’t believe that’s what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like. The church is not meant to be a country club of righteous friends who meet to pat each other on the back, but rather a gathering of thirsty, weary souls yearning for His Living Water. As disciples of Jesus, we’re broken people who want to be better, and we strive toward sanctification, righteousness, and Godliness. But most importantly, we receive the Lord’s love so we can love each other, especially when we fall short. Our Savior didn’t demand that His followers perform to a certain standard, pass a test, or answer a series of questions before He brought them into His fold — He simply asked them to follow Him. Then, as they observed His life, watched His interactions, and listened to His teaching, they naturally began imitating His behavior. They inherited power as they relied on His strength, and they learned how to love by spending time in His presence. Though they were flawed and quirky, their rough edges were smoothed by His Spirit — and so can ours be today.
My friend, you don’t need to be perfect to gain access to the family of God. You are loved just as you are, and nothing you have said or done — past, present, or future — can change your place of acceptance in His household. If you’ve been wounded by the church, I’m deeply sorry, and it’s my fervent prayer that the Lord will lead you to a grace-filled, life-giving congregation in which you can find belonging and grow to be more like Jesus. He welcomes you with open arms, and He has more good things in store for your life than you can even fathom!