I saw a meme the other day, and I’ve heard this sentiment more than once: “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” I have difficulty with this phrase. Not because we don’t sin, nor because the church can’t be a place of healing. But, I believe the premise is backwards. The Church is made up of believers in Jesus. When we put our trust in Him, we become sanctified – set apart for God. Holy. In a word, a SAINT. I know this might sound strange. It was to me, when I first read that in Scripture. We don’t tend to see ourselves as saints. The biblical definition of a saint is someone who is set apart for God. So, the Church is not a museum – it is a living temple of God.
When we fail to see ourselves as the new creation that God has made us, we diminish the finished work of Christ on Calvary’s cross. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that we all live perfectly when we are saved. I know I don’t. But, the point is that God sees us through the blood that Jesus shed. God sees us as perfect in Christ. As we confess our sins, [they are cast as far from us as the east is from the west] (which never meet).
The purpose of the church is to build one another up in Christ. To bear each others’ burdens. To fulfill the ministry of reconciliation. In that sense, the church is a hospital. We are to come to the aid of other believers so that we can go out into the world and point the world to Jesus. We cannot heal each other, however. No matter how well-intentioned I am, or how much I try, I can never bring healing to your pain. I can sympathize, empathize, hug, listen, pray and offer advice, but true healing is only found in one place – through Jesus. As the Church (believers) points each of us to Jesus over and over again, encouraging one another to remain in the Word of God and on our knees, Jesus brings the healing and strength we so desperately need.
I have a confession to make. I have been in places the last couple years that have left me feeling worthless. Feeling depressed. Feeling utterly hopeless. Feeling lost. It has been tempting to give up and run away (a tropical island sounds good sometimes). In short, because of some extremely difficult circumstances, I had doubted my identity in Christ, and consequently, my attitudes and behaviors followed suit. But, do you know what? God’s Word has a way of sneaking up on me. God won’t let me forget His everlasting love. He has challenged me over and over to “not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.” (Romans 12:2), and He has reminded me over and over that He has not given me a spirit of fear, but a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7). And that I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).
Believers from around the world (literally) have pointed me to Christ at every turn. Oh, to be sure, they would allow me to lament and wail and grieve and cry (sometimes for extended periods of time). But, then, they would calmly ask “Are you done?” “Are you ready to remember what God has said?” “Are you ready to listen to Him?” And God heals. He brings truth. He gives hope. He is patient (yes, even with me!). He convicts. He chastises. He forgives. He is good. I cannot express enough thanks for those that have faithfully, consistently, over and over (and over and over) pointed me back to Jesus; reminding me of who I am, and Whose I am. God is not done working yet, and I have no idea what the future will look like, but my prayer is that as I remember my first love (Revelation. 2:4), I will be able to face difficulties with much more grace and confidence than I have in the past.
So, I want to leave you with a few questions (questions are like potato chips to me – I can never ask just one), if you are a believer: Do you see yourself as a saint? Do you find your value and worth in Jesus? Do you live like a child of the King of Kings? Do you seek to please Him? How have other Christians pointed you to Christ? Has God given you the opportunity to point other believers back to Jesus? I want to challenge you to read the book of Ephesians. The first three chapters are a reminder of who we are in Christ. The last three chapters show how to live it out.
Life is hard. But God is good. Keep abiding on.