Words of Grace
A few years ago the “model” for churches was based on the television show, “Cheers,” where you could come in, sit down, and everyone would know your name. Church leaders were supposed to try to build a community that allowed people to feel at home, comfortable, like they belonged. I often wondered how that was possible in churches that preached legalism. (No, wait, they couldn’t use the model of a bar. Could they?)
Many people feel like they don’t belong when they are at church. It isn’t only that the people aren’t friendly. Sometimes they are friendly, but the feeling of being a hypocrite or an outsider still lingers. In fact, it’s harder when they are friendly.
Think about what the church is supposed to be. It is supposed to be the local and present representation of the body of Christ, right? The gathering of those who have been washed, forgiven, accepted, and filled. Those who belong to Jesus. But, when the preacher focuses on the sins of the Christians in the assembly, he causes them to question whether they have truly been forgiven and included. Some look around at all the rest of the people, pretending to ignore the condemnation, and they feel that they are the only ones who shouldn’t be there. The preacher just said they are hypocrites, that they have displeased God, and that their salvation hangs by a thread. He just told them they don’t measure up to the standard.
So they go to church but never really believe they belong. They miss the joy of the gospel, the acceptance of the Lord, because of the message of condemnation.
Listen: If you have come to Jesus for the washing away of your sins and have trusted in Him alone for salvation, you belong to Him. Heaven is yours. The church is yours. All the promises and hopes are yours. You are accepted in Him and because of Him. You belong.
You are not of this world. You are in Christ. You are washed and accepted. You are in the Kingdom of God. You are in His family. You are a citizen of Heaven. Nothing can change that and there is nothing more for you to do. You belong.