Sunday, January 6, 2013

We need a Doctor!

As I said in the previous post, blogging more and reading the Bible more are two of my resolutions for 2013. So, for my first post of the new regime, I'm combining the two.

Firstly, I have to admit I'm two days behind my Bible reading already... I blame the two shifts meaning I wasn't home until very late.  But I'll catch up tonight and tomorrow. When I was reading the other day, two sections popped out at me, which are very closely linked.

Mathew 9: 10-13, coming straight after the calling of Matthew, says:
10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (NLT)

A quick aside, I love the use of the word 'scum'. Its usage here reminds me of the (accused) use of 'pleb' by Andrew Mitchell MP, and the Spartacus-esque 'I am a pleb' that followed. From reading around this passage, and the attitudes of the Pharisees portrayed in the Gospels, I am happy to say 'I am Scum!'

The second passage is Proverbs 20: 9:
Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart;
    I am pure and free from sin”? (NLT)

I think these passages highlight something all Christians need to remember. We are all sick people; we all need a doctor. In a bonus track on an album by thebandwithnoname, they talk of this 'disease' as 'psychological sickness' which affects how we think and act and that it is terminal unless we seek treatment. All Christians are human (unless one day, we find aliens who are also Christian but if that happens I'll happily edit this!) and humans sin.  Often we can't help it; we let our emotions take control, we speak out of anger, we let jealously eat away, we think we know what is best for us and ignore God.

And I think it is important to remember this when we view actions, statements, and practices of the Church. The Church is a human construct, a group of flawed people coming together to try and do better. 'Try' being the main word. The church isn't perfect; it makes mistakes, it causes hurt, it doesn't always show the best side of God. And we get judged for that by the media and the public. Maybe we need to be more upfront about our failings. Often 'Holier than Thou' is many people's view of Christians, and when issues of women in leadership and sexuality dominate the religion sections of the news, 'Church' seems totally alien to society.
I love this picture, and I think it is something we need to remember. Sin is Sin is Sin. Is 'sexual immorality' (whatever that means) worse than ignoring those in need? Is acting in Anger worse than acting in Lust? We all sin. None of us can say 'I am pure and free of sin.' None of us can take up Jesus' invitation to pick up a rock to throw at the woman caught with a man who wasn't her husband. I pray for the day when the mainstream view of the Church is one of love and openness, not one of judgement and exclusion (And I'm not saying that Churches aren't open and loving, but it is a common view that they’re not). It pains me that when the Church (and usually the Church of England) is in the media, it is for negative reasons. Very rarely is the great work of the Church and of Christians shown.  There is amazing work going on to support some of the poorest and most vulnerable going on in Christian groups around the world. Let's get that good news out, so that THE Good News (of Jesus Christ) can be given that publicity it deserves.

(Footnote: I have been very heavy on us as sinful beings here, which I make no apologies for. But it is important to remember that those sins don't have to be a burden to us. Through the Doctor of Jesus Christ this can be treated; our slates can be wiped clean. This is the wonderful news that we should be sharing.)

I'd like to hear from you - please comment on here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

How can we get more good news out about what Churches are doing?
Do you struggle with peoples' idea that Christians are 'Holier than Thou?'

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