It's funny how we so often take the things of God and manage to make it all backwards. We get caught up in this idea of perception provoked by appearance. For some reason we have created this bubble in the Church where, how people perceive us is more important than who we really are. It's probably because Christians are terrible at living the grace of God toward each other. Often we are more like piranhas when we see someone is injured, broken, or messed up.
What is your first thought when you hear of the sins of some respectable member of your church? Can you believe that people actually stop attending church because of the imperfections of others? We see the Church as some kind of Crystal Cathedral instead of the hospital that it is. Really damaged people come in, expecting to find healing for their wounds. Here they are ministered to by the Holy Spirit and cared for by this incredible family of God. It is a place where sins are washed away and a new creation emerges. It is a place of change and transformation; a place of forgiveness and redemption. So why do we put up with this attitude of judgement and execution?
We forget that we all have testimonies that are to be used to glorify God. They are not things of shame that that we hide away and try to pretend never happened. We don't live in the guilt of those things and we do not celebrate the sin but we do celebrate our rescue from that sin. I look at my life, what it could have been if not for the love, mercy and grace of Jesus. It is a thing that should bring joy to every Christian's heart, instead of condemnation. Condemnation doesn't even make sense. Are we going to condemn someone for what they did when they had no choice; when they were enslaved to sin? How can we condemn the redeemed of God for their past when God has transformed them into his child by his love?
Apostle Paul did not hide his testimony. He never forgot where he came from but he also knew what God did with it:
I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me. (Galatians 1:22-24)
That's something to say, isn't it? "They praised God because of me." They knew what he had been but they could see what God had done and they praised God because of this trophy of grace. The Church is overflowing with these trophies of grace, a people who were not God's people, who had been lost in rebellion and the ugliness of sin, now a nation, God's righteous children, the redeemed of the blood of the Lamb. We are all trophies of grace and we cannot forget our testimony. We may not all have been murderers and bank robbers but we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all have a testimony and the Church would be a much more colourful place if we would stop worrying about perception and just be real and honest with people.
People who are sick are not interested in going to places where they kill the sick. The sick want to go to a place where their sins are understood and identified with, where healing is available and where recovery is believed possible. Jesus is the doctor and we are the nurses and nurses don't kill patients. Let the Church be what she was intended to be; change your attitude.