Where did we go wrong in the Church? When did we actually start expecting and demanding perfection from people? When did we start believing that perfection was possible? Why are we ever surprised or shocked when a brother or sister stumbles? And why this act of self-righteousness; as if any of us could ever cast the first stone?
We are on a journey and that journey is a progression. It is not a slow steady curve on some kind of graph. It is a series of ups and downs and ups as we slowly grow and mature. A child does not learn to walk without falling. Even mature runners will occasionally fall. Considering that we are all just one decision away from sinning, none of us can afford to think that we are perfect. Being aware of our imperfections means we are willing to seek help when we need it.
Here is the fact: We all sin:
What then? Are we better Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. (Romans 3:9)
These are Paul the apostle's words as he describes Yahweh's judgement and the place for the Law. We do not need to sin as we have been freed from that authority over us and have been placed under Christ's authority. We have been given the power to overcome all temptation, but often our flesh is weak. There are all kinds of weak points, when we are tired, discouraged, confused, afraid. If we are strong in Christ then these moments are easy to overcome, which is why we should always be strong in Christ. But when we neglect the relationship these moments seem like mountains. At these times our flesh wants to take us in one direction and our spirit in another. We pray that maturity gives us the ability to choose the spirit over the flesh but sometimes we fail.
We need to recognize this in order to understand the importance of receiving and giving grace. Just as all of our sins have been covered by the sacrifice of Jesus, we need to cover the sins of our brothers and sisters. Before restoration can happen we must respond with grace and forgiveness. In order to create an atmosphere of repentance, where people are not afraid to confess their sins, we need to have a place of love, acceptance, forgiveness and a desire to see everyone healed and restored.
How can we reach out to a dying world in love when we don't know how to love our own? We tell the world to come to Jesus, to trust him for healing but instead of seeking healing for our fallen, we seek their destruction. Crazy.
Admitting sin is the first step to healing. Admitting that we, the Church, are not perfect is the first step to creating an atmosphere of grace. We must hear Jesus when he said that he did not come to condemn but to save. We need to re-vision why he left us here and what he told us to do. Perhaps we could start with his instruction to love each other as he has loved us.