By Jeff Smith
Special to The PREVIEW
Christian churches want people to be holy, but we should also welcome people in who come with many troubles.
When I came to Christ, got saved and became a part of the larger Christian church, it was common to hear the phrase, “You can’t work your way to heaven.”
This is true and it makes sense. It makes sense that God, who lives outside of time, who never began, who will never end and who knows all things, might also have some ideas about right and wrong that are higher than mine. My best efforts to be good might not match His. So, I need to ask Him to forgive me of my sins even if I thought that some of them were not so bad.
The effect of this phrase on some, though, left to itself, is that God does not value any of our flawed attempts to do something right for a change. Some who hear that may conclude that Jesus is just one more among many who are hard to please. We either do things His way or don’t bother at all.
A verse from the wisdom scriptures offers a balance to that idea: “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, (used in ancient times for measuring things like gold or silver) but accurate weights are his delight.” — Proverbs 11:1 (KJV).
It points out that God delights in honest dealings. He hates cheating. That is because He sees the problems it causes further down the road. So, people may be coming to our churches because they are trying to make a break from their sins and the messes that come with them. When they do, we should remind ourselves that that is just what He wants.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness . . .” (Matthew 5:6). They hunger to do better. We need to show them that we are delighted they came.
By Jeff Smith