The issue of sin and membership has come up at times in our church and in our denomination. There are those who call for people to be banned from membership because they have sinned. But since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, then everyone should be barred from membership. If we follow through on that logic we will have nothing but empty churches.
Sometimes in our zeal to be faithful we overlook what makes sense and what God wants. Today’s passage is the familiar story of a woman caught in adultery. What has the woman done? What do the religious leaders want? How does Jesus make the woman part of his “church?” What does Jesus give her?
The religious leaders in that area had found a woman who was committing a sin and they were eager to punish her. But Jesus very deftly points out that each one of us is guilty of one sin or another. Who are we to judge anyone?
And in that moment Jesus is offering that sinful woman acceptance into his fold, this flock of sinful sheep seeking shelter and a better spiritual understanding of God. And in that action Jesus is an example for us.
He doesn’t deny the sin. He doesn’t excuse the sin. He accepts the sinner and offers a chance to change. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Hard as it may be we are to do the same to those in the world around us. We need to first accept them and then help them leave the life of sin. In that way we are relevant to the world. But many of us have difficulty with this.
We expect non-Christians living in a non-Christian world to be able to behave in a Christian way and comprehend our Christian beliefs. We can’t always see that we have our own way of thinking and speaking and believing, and those people out in the world may not understand it.
We don’t need to give up our Christian ways. But we do need to realize not everyone is immediately ready for the life we live. And we do need to have some humility in our approach, realizing that we are sinners too. Perhaps that can help us be more forgiving to others.
DAILY CHALLENGE: How do your rules for membership compare to those of Jesus?