You've probably never thought of it this way, but believe it or not, the church is a lot like a dump and her ministers are a lot like trash collectors.
Stay with me.
In the same way a hospital collects sick people ... the church (at least the one JESUS is building) attracts trash ... and lots of it.
Contrary to what you may have previously thought or heard, the church is not a collection of SUPER MODELS, SUPER HEROES, or SUPER anythings. Rather, it is a collection of outcasts, discards, rejects, losers, you name it. People who’ve messed up, given up, turned back, turned away, been hurt, hurt others, made mistakes, blown it, lost it, ruined it, etc.
The church is not a group of perfect folks who have it all together. Rather, it more closely resembles a ragtag group of fellow failures who have finally admitted they can’t keep anything together without JESUS.
Now the church is not without a few perfect folks ... at least they think they are. They are the church’s critics and every church has them. Those who usually trash a church do so because they expected to find perfection there. Even though they, themselves, are far from perfect, they expect and demand everything and everyone else to be perfect. Perfect preaching, perfect singing, perfect people, perfect programs, perfect everything so they can be perfectly happy.
“Maybe you need to take another look at the church. And instead of looking for and expecting everything to be perfect, thank God it isn’t.”
The only problem is, that church doesn’t exist. Anywhere. There’s no such thing. Just as a hospital can’t be a hospital without sickness and suffering, disease, even dealing with death and 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. But that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The church is a trash collector. JESUS said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.” He is the supernatural Recycler, redeeming what the world deems rubbish and 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, Paul reminds the church at Corinth of their trashy past. Here’s what he says, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. AND THAT IS WHAT SOME OF YOU WERE” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11a).
Maybe your specific sins are not on Paul’s list there, but your sins and mine are definitely on the list that would have left us with a devastating destiny of being relegated to a hopeless heap of garbage ... burning for all eternity. However, our Redeemer, the Supreme Recycler, stepped in and stopped all that. Paul told the people at Corinth that’s what had happened to them. After reminding them of their putrid past, Paul 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 6:11b).
If you’re saved, the same thing happened to you.
Maybe you need to take another look at the church. And instead of looking for and expecting everything to be perfect, thank God it isn’t. After all, that’s why you and I can fit right in.
Thank God He’s still accepting rejects, taking those no one else wants, and that He has given us a place, in His Church, where redemption and recycling are the order of the 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.
If, for some reason, you feel like trash today, head to church this Sunday. If it’s the church JESUS is building, you’ll feel right at home.
© 2021. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. 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.