I had an early morning meeting that I really believed would be a catalyst for great things to come throughout the day. I was quite wrong.

The conversations were going well and I really believed new doors and opportunities were being created. Until we began to discuss some theological issues that end up being barriers to folks in faith.

At West, we’ve tried from Day One to be a “judgment free zone.” (Think of the Planet Fitness theme).

I most definitely believe in the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the sacredness of Scripture; however, Andrea Smith standing up on the stage area and blasting those in the seats and online is just not what I consider a productive use of worship time.

Therefore, when asked, “How do you address sin?” I make sure I answer carefully.

That was the question I was expected to answer this morning, “How are you addressing the sins of the people?”

That was truly the last thing on my mind bright and early on a Wednesday morn.

To answer – I typically start with my own understanding of “sin” (missing the mark) and how that relates to individuals in their lives. Yet, when I am pressed because I am not “hard enough on others’ sin” . . . .I have to confess, sometimes, like today, that becomes a challenge.

“What do you mean, I need to convict others of their sin?” I asked.

Then my meeting companion began to share their personal beliefs about “what is wrong with the world.”

I’m often perplexed as to why we focus on some things that are “wrong” with the world, but we miss out on so much . . . There are children that go to bed hungry 10 miles from where we lay our heads at night.

That’s wrong with the world.

There are folks that do not have a bed to sleep on.
That is what is wrong with the world.

People die from diseases that are just one breakthrough away from a cure.
That is what is wrong with the world.

People suffer from mental illness and great help is not readily available so that they can combat the demons in their minds.
That is what is wrong with the world.

People decide that ONE MORE TIME, they will give a “church” a try and they go to experience the same things they were afraid of to begin with . . . they are never enough.

My standing up on Sundays and pointing fingers and blasting people so that they feel like crap when they walk out the door or turn off their computer, is NOT going to help what is wrong with the world.

I love it when we miss that “little” message of Jesus as recorded in Matthew:

1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

We get so caught up in our own fears and prejudices; we fail to recognize the humanity in others.

On some days when these situations face me, my being “feisty” takes over and my mouth just refuses to stay shut.

I invite the finger-pointing advocates to ponder, “sins” that are mentioned in Scripture.
I reference the fact that if we are going to keep people from “leadership” in the church because they are sinners, we may as well go on and close the doors because the last time I checked, gluttony, greed, and pride were three that top the list.

I personally fall prey to all three and daily struggle to live a life that is absolutely focused on following the ways of Christ rather than the desires of my soul (like my fascination with Girl Scout Cookies!)

I often hear it said the “church” is a hospital for sinners not a country-club for saints. Sometimes I think we forget what “hospitals” really look like. Last time I visited one, hospitals are rather chaotic, with many people urgently trying to offer the best care possible. Everyone is actively involved and no one is standing around pointing fingers and telling other folks what to do. All have a vested interest in the health of the person being cared for. Somehow we miss all that in the translation from “hospital” to “church.”

Tonight someone from West wrote me that he had shared with a colleague that his spiritual life had deepened more in the past three years than he had ever imagined.
All this happened without his pastor pointing fingers and cursing his soul (or others, for that matter).

By being a part of a faith community that is a safe place for exploring one’s relationship with God and the life-changing love of Christ . . . his life changed.
That is the power of grace.

And . . .
That is one thing that is right with the world! One of many . . .