I’ve noticed a trend on the interwebs as of late. Many feel-good blog posts are for folks who have been wounded or walked through immense suffering. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who has seen grey days, I resonate 110%. But lately God has opened my eyes not only to the wounded, but to the wounders as well.
So today I have a message for those of you with BIG mistakes. To those of you weighed down with guilt, shame, and regret…
You are wanted, you are loved, and there is room for you in our homes. There is room for you in our churches. There is room for you in our social circles. There is a seat waiting for you at the table of grace.
Did you mess up big? Have you fallen from society’s good grace?
No worries, me too.
And I have a word for you today.
Get back up and come sit with us at the table. You might believe that you’ve utterly messed up your life, but I’m here to tell you that a feast is just around the corner.
“No, you don’t understand what I’ve done,” you say. And you’re right, I don’t know the details of your shame. But what I do know is that God does His greatest work in the most broken places, during the darkest hour. Redemption has always been His strong suit.
Our hodgepodge heroes of the faith were prostitutes, liars, doubters, adulterers, and murderers (just to name a few), and trust me when I tell you that there’s nothing you can do to out-sin some of God’s best. Not to mention, when Jesus walked this earth, He ate with tax collectors and sinners, people like you and me. And when Pharisees, the religious rule followers, rolled their eyes about the company He kept, Jesus replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
You see, it feels good to sit in church and hear how David, a man after God’s own heart cheated, manipulated, and killed. But it’s much more difficult to do the hard work and say, “I am David, and He loves me still,” or equally hard to be like Joseph and say, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. I forgive you.”
This is the Gospel and the table of grace you’re welcome to. It’s a table full of misfits and mistake makers, rebels with restored hearts, and I want you to know that today, there’s a seat for you here.
But before you sit down, let me first say this.
You see the church has this beautiful messy job of being the hands and feet of Jesus, and sometimes, (ahem most of the time), we don’t do it perfectly. But in spite of our brokenness, Jesus left the keys to His kingdom in the hands of a bunch of zealous misfits who rarely get it right.
And sometimes, in pursuit of holiness we get caught up in our self-righteousness, instead of His righteousness. We “do good” to those it feels good to “do good” to, and forget that the greatest good we could ever do is love our neighbors as ourselves, even if... no, especially if our neighbor is that guy who was charged with embezzling, or that girl who has a reputation. Or what about that brother or sister who wounded us? We can forgive others, but not them; the wound is too deep. Instead of grace upon grace, we heap coals of shame and cries for justice upon each other’s failed shoulders as we pridefully thank God that we’re not like that person.
Jesus loved the outsider, the doubter, the guy who stole money from others, the woman who had been with multiple men. The broken, messed up people that religious folk turned away, these were the people God-incarnate sought out. Yet we hide our reputations behind the appearance of holiness and keep the folks Jesus loved most at arms length.
We forget that it’s not our reputation we boast in, rather it’s in the one we’ve been given. Not earned by any good deed we’ve accomplished, but by one good deed done once and for ALL. We bought the lie - hook, line, and sinker - that we aren't one of you. We believe the lie that we're all better now, and that the sin nature we were born with is gone now that we've said a prayer.
And for that, I say, We Are SORRY. I am sorry. We have failed you by making you feel like you aren’t good enough or cleaned up enough or like you don't belong here. The truth is, none of us ever were good enough and we still aren’t.
We’re sorry for creating A-teams and B-teams, varsity and jv, when the gospel says ALL of us are big sinners in need of a BIGGER Savior.
We are sorry for pushing you out, rather than drawing you in.
But that’s the thing about this beautiful messy table of grace, we all are wounded and wound each other. And all at the table must learn to both dish out and receive forgiveness like it's Thanksgiving Pie.
So today, I’m begging you. Come sit with us, forgive us, find your place of rest here amongst other sinners like you. Start the journey of healing with us by your side and a God who is fighting for you always, because we’re all healing from something. And by sitting with us, sharing your story, letting us walk these messy days with you, you bless us. You help us see Jesus better by letting us sit with you in your broken story, as we ask you to sit with us in ours. Because make no mistake, regardless of pretense, everyone at the table of grace has a broken story and our common denominator is that we are all deeply loved by a gracious God.
So today, if you’ve fallen, get back up.
Have you messed up big? Redemption awaits.
There’s room for you at this table, always has been, always will be. Have a seat and enjoy the feast. Be known, be loved, you are welcome here.