I’m pretty sure you’ve never thought about it this way, but the church is a lot like a dump and her ministers a lot like trash collectors. In the same way a hospital attracts sick people, the church (at least the one JESUS is building) attracts trash ... and lots of it. Stay with me.
Contrary to what you may have previously heard or thought, the church is NOT a collection of supermodels, superheroes or super-anythings. Rather, the church is a collection of outcasts, discards, rejects, losers — you name it. People who’ve messed up, given up, turned away, turned back, been hurt, hurt others made mistakes, blown it, lost it, ruined it — you name it.
The church isn’t a group of perfect people who have it all together. Rather, it more closely resembles a ragtag group of fellow failures who’ve finally admitted they can’t keep anything together without JESUS CHRIST.
In the church there are a few perfect people ... at least they think they are. They are the church’s critics and every church has them. These people, who regularly trash the church, do so because they expect to find perfection there. Even though they, themselves, are far from perfect, they expect and demand every thing and everyone else be perfect. Perfect preaching, perfect singing, perfect people, perfect programs, perfect everything so they can be perfectly happy. The only problem is: that church doesn’t exist. Never has and never will. Anywhere. There’s no such thing. Just as a hospital can’t be a hospital without sickness and suffering, disease, even dealing with dying; likewise a church can’t be a church, better yet, “THE” church, without people with problems ... and lots of them.
If you want to find the biggest collection of misfits and malcontents on the planet, you don’t have to look any further than your local church. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The church is essentially a trash collector. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” He is the supernatural Recycler, redeeming what the world deems rubbish, giving new life to those who were as good as dead (2 Corinthians 5:17).
That’s exactly what we were ... all of us. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul reminded the church at Corinth of their nasty, trashy past. Here’s what he said, “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU.” (Emphasis added.)
Maybe your specific sins aren’t on Paul’s list. But your sins and mine are definitely on the list that would have left us with a devastating destiny, being relegated to a hopeless heap of garbage — burning for all eternity. However our Redeemer, JESUS, the Supreme Recycler, stepped in and stopped all that. Paul told the Corinthians that’s exactly what had happened to them. After pointing out their putrid past, he said, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”
(1 Corinthians 6:11).
If you’re saved, the same thing happened to you.
Maybe you need to take another look at the church. And instead of expecting everything to be perfect, thank God it isn’t. After all, that’s why you can fit right in.
Thank God He’s still accepting rejects, taking in those who others have cast out and who no one else wants. Thank God He made room for us and gave us a place, in His church, where redemption and recycling are the order of every day. It’s been said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That’s certainly true with us. The devil wants to trash us. JESUS wants to treasure us.
So if, for some reason, you’re feeling a little like trash today, head to church this Sunday. If it’s the church JESUS is building ...
... you’ll feel right at home!
© 2015. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Today, more than 8,000 people call Crossroads their church home. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.