One of the greatest dangers of the church today is the threat from within – that we may lose our ‘distinctive transformed identity’ by becoming so much like the world that those who are not part of us cannot tell the difference between the world and the church. We even have catch phrases like “the Church is not a museum for saints, it’s a hospital for sinners”. Now, this statement is very misleading because people can be misguided by thinking of sin as an illness and not a personal guilt. This way we dilute the depravity of sin into mistakes with phrases like “I’m only human” or “we’re all sinners”. This gives the impression that the church is a place where people get fixed, bandaged, and improved to function better in the here and now.
I am reminded of a quote from C.S Lewis’s, “Mere Christianity”:
“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in My image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will shall become your will. My heart shall become your heart.”
Jesus did not come to prune our carnal man to enable us to produce spiritual fruit, this never happens. Jesus came so that we who are dead in our sins can be resurrected into ‘His’ new life. This life is gifted by Him, sustained by Him and completed in Him. Just as He died and rose, He came to raise the dead! He came to smash us apart and make us new. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:10,But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because ofhis Spirit who lives in you.
So, the church becomes an incubator of repentance and forgiveness. It begins with consciousness of sin, lament over it, fueled by a desire for Holiness: This is how the Holy Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies. Paul talks to this in 2 Cor 7:1 2 Corinthians 7:1, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Purity of our lives is at the very heart of God’s plan for you and me.