Hi I’m Jim and I’m a sinner II

[Continuing Gordon MacDonald’s article in Leadership Mag Winter 2014 pp 29-32]
…”‘I woke up at four this morning and couldn’t wait until it was time to get here. I need you people so much. I’m a much stronger person after the meeting is over. I can go without a drink for another 24 hours.’ I imagined church people saying this about Sunday worship.” Yea, amen brother Gordon! So the issue is how to get people stoked to want to be at worship all the time. I do a Matins worship on Thursday 9am, if I had the interest [because so far attendance is, me], I’d do it every day, I’d love to start every day at Matins. No one in the church has ever given it an honest chance [I do it on Sundays at 8:30 too]. I like to get there and worship like that every morning. How do you translate that to people so they “couldn’t wait until it was time to get here”?
“In all the months I attended AA. I never learned a last name, or what anyone did for a living, or even what anyone’s socio-economic position was. These things made no difference. The primary issue was recovery, nothing else.”
Yea, Hi I’m Jim and I’m a sinner. That’s all that matters. Clearly that is not the understanding of most people in the church, they want to be part of the museum of saints. Unfortunately, in reality, the church is a hospital for sinners. Until such time as you treat it as such, you will never be healed, you will never know new life, you will be stuck where you are at, a museum display.
“‘You don’t get it,’ he responded. ‘In an AA meeting, there are no homeless men and there are no prostitutes. We’re just a bunch of drunks helping each other stay sober for one more day. Where we sleep or how we make our living has little to do with our addictions.'”
Again, what would it be like if we worshiped together and were never the least bit concerned if we were worshiping with a gay prostitute, or the most successful, handsome man or woman you can imagine. You’re not there to sweat the other person, you’re there to worship God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You are also there to support and be supported by those who are brothers and sisters. Yea, maybe you’d never have anything to do with that person on the street, but in that church, before the altar of Christ you are brothers and sisters in Jesus and I mean that in the best sense.
“Alcoholism is as illustrative of what the Bible calls sin as anything I know. It is a spiritual disease that warps the brain, destroys common sense, generates selfishness and twists the truth. A classic alcoholic is a habitual liar, sure he’s never wrong, convinced that everyone else is to blame for his problems.”
I’m not going to say that most people are these extremes, but like Jesus did, sometimes using hyperbole makes us think a little. We all have our sin problems, church is to help us to grow in holiness and away from our sin problems, but they will always be there. Do yourself a huge favor, acknowledge it in yourself and give yourself a break and even more so acknowledge it in everyone else with you in worship and give them an even bigger break.
“Transparency. The alcoholic’s price of admission to an AA meeting is acknowledged brokenness.” That’s the way we should all go to worship, and as I said cut ourselves and each other some slack. And please, give me a break, I’m not looking to have a whole group of contrite sinners in front of me while I show everyone how holy I am. If you think I’m getting a little too full of myself and holier than thou, then you just trot up to me and let me know. Better know what you’re talking about, but I’m as accountable (probably more so in reality) to the congregation as the congregation is to me. When either one of us loses sight of that, then we are just playing church and going through the motions, we no longer know true worship or being in Christ.
“Acceptance” You have to accept others, even the unlovely and they have to accept you. Our Savior embraced lepers, sorry, but you don’t know anyone even close to leprosy, there isn’t anyone you can’t at least shake hands with.
MacDonald described a woman really up against it, just completely unlovely and without hope. “[Marilyn] sober for more than a dozen years. She reached with both arms toward Kathy and pulled her close …’Honey, you’re gong to be OK. You’re with us now. We can deal with this together. All you have to do is keep coming. Hear me? Keep coming.'”
I’ve said that to people in as many words, but under much less dramatic conditions.
If we had that heart of Christ and hey, I’m as lacking as anyone. We all have to be more empathetic and accepting, let’s help each other do that.
Having said all that, I do have one criticism of AA/NA. Yea, it’s worked, and I understand the rationale with the “higher power”. But hey guys maybe it’s time to get real, get off your high horse (cause I have gotten that kind of attitude from people in AA, when I was talking to someone who really wanted to know about Christ). I have to wonder, how many people got left behind because the focus wasn’t on the one true higher power, Jesus Christ? No more then in the rest of the world, AA is not a place to get all up in how you can change, and should be all about how God the Father, brings new life, how God the Son died so you could be saved from your old life and God the Holy Spirit works that transformation in you. Anything else? Sorry! Just doesn’t work. Having said that, there is a lot in AA that we in the church could learn from. I really do like being with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I like being their pastor and I hope they like being a part of the congregation I have been led by God to pastor. So let’s show that compassion, empathy and willingness to help and sacrifice for those around us.

2 thoughts on “Hi I’m Jim and I’m a sinner II

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    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like
    you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little
    bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog.

    A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.



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