I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that the church should be a hospital for sinners and not a hotel for the saints. What this means is that the church is there to welcome sinners in, and not just a place for Christians to meet. I could not agree more with this statement. The problem is that I don’t believe that this is happening. In fact, I think that there is a third ‘option’ which is not mentioned here that a large portion of churches adopt. I would like to have a look at all 3 options here and see why only one is what Jesus intended.
Let’s look a the first option. The church is a hotel for saints. Matthew 28:19 tells us to make disciples of all nations. This was Jesus’ last, and possibly most important, instruction to us. Yes, this means teaching Christians, but it also means leading non-believers to Christ. If you don’t want non-believers in church, how do you propose leading them to Christ? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to have a look at just about any passage in the gospels and see that Jesus spent more time with non-believers than believers. It is important to notice that Jesus did spend time with believers (His disciples) but His ministry was with non-believers.
The second option. The hospital for sinners. This is where we should be, however I don’t think that we are. Even the churches that claim to be, I don’t think they are, I think they are mostly in the third category. We’ll get to that, but right now let’s look at this one and see what it should be. A hospital is a place where sick people go to get better. It usually involves some kind of operation or treatment. Then once you are better, you are sent out again. This should also be true of the church, but I fear it isn’t. Sinners (as in all of us before we are/were saved) should feel welcome in the church, but when we come in, we should be helped and ‘treated’ as to make us well again. This will involve teaching, counselling and help to get us is in a healthy relationship with God. So much so, that we can actually go out of the church in order for us to minister to others and bring them into the church. This is the whole idea.
The third option is one not mentioned in the saying, but one I fear most churches adopt unwillingly. The church becomes a hospice for sinners and saints. This is when churches adopt a ‘welcome everyone but stay who you are’ attitude. This happens when churches realise the need to invite non-Christians, but don’t want to ‘inflict’ the gospel onto them, but what is the point of having a church if you don’t plan to spread the Word? Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there should be a whole lot of conditions at the door, I am just saying that people should be welcome to come in, but the church should not compromise on teaching. People need to know what is required to have a healthy relationship with God, they may not choose to follow, but the church needs to teach the truth. It has become quite politically incorrect to ‘point out other’s faults’ but then how do we help them without acknowledging the problems first? Why is it that if I say that I am going to root the sin out of my life so that I can walk closer to God, everyone will say how wonderful that is, but if I say that I want to encourage someone else to root the sin out of their life so that they can walk closer to God, then I am a ‘stone-thrower’?
Doctors don’t become doctors to point out patient’s weaknesses, they become doctors to help others. I don’t do ministry because I want to point out other’s faults, I do it because I have seen the advantages in my own life, and I wish to share that with everyone. It is difficult to do this without people thinking that you are pointing out their faults, but it needs to be done. If we don’t teach others how to have a relationship with God, why are we different to anyone else? We need to be the salt of the earth, not just the same as everyone else. We need to remember to do it in love, we are not here as judges, we are here as friends who help each other.
I hope that this makes sense.
Spread the word.