John Fischer continues to encourage me in my journey in faith. I've read most of his books, listened to his recordings and had the opportunity to hang with him a time or two in the past…everytime, it has been enlightening, challenging and edifying! So, today's email blast from John was helpful…especially if you and me have a "country club mentality" of what a community in Jesus is all about…you can draw your own conclusions (here is the post – you can subscribe yourself to the daily "Catch" @ John's website:
"…It may be that a new church was born last night (early this morning) in my kitchen. Whatever happens, we're calling it Church of Sinners. The name was my oldest son's contribution reminiscent of many of the ideas you sent in for a church marquee that would actually make people want to attend. We think Church of Sinners might have strong possibilities.
Much of what outsiders struggle with when it comes to church and Christianity is an imagined level of performance they assume is required of those on the inside. People think a certain behavior level is expected- a kind of incorrect thinking that keeps out the very people for whom the gospel of Jesus Christ exists. This is what keeps single moms away from church, even when they want to come and desperately need friendship and support. This is what keeps out gays and lesbians who are genuinely seeking God. This is what keeps out those who have had abortions, and the men who have caused them. Not to mention recovering addicts, ex-cons, the poor, the homeless, the mentally challenged. It's starting to look like the crowd that followed Jesus around when he was here – lepers, the deranged, demon possessed, the blind, the lame, and the social misfits.
To many people church is synonymous to a country club, and this is why Church of Sinners carries such possibilities. Church of Sinners brings some people up and others down to where everyone is where they can enjoy the grace of God.
My favorite definition of the church comes from Robert Farrar Capon, Episcopal priest and student of the grace of God. In his understanding, the church is "a community of astonished hearts proclaiming the end of religion in Jesus" – "astonished," because they know they don't deserve to be in, and "the end of religion" because it is the end of all performance-based assumptions that have been built up around religion for years.
The word for anyone outside needs to be acceptance not performance. And if it's sinners who hold the inside track on the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ, then all sinners are welcome. Who could feel bad about joining a group of other sinners? The only people who might not feel very good about joining the Church of Sinners would be those who don't think they are that sinful, but I know for a fact, there are plenty of other places that would be more than happy to have good people like them."