9-10 Do you need reminding that the unjust have no share in the blessings of the kingdom of God? Do not be misled. A lot of people stand to inherit nothing of God’s coming kingdom, including those whose lives are defined by sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, sexual deviancy, theft, greed, drunkenness, slander, and swindling. 11 Some of you used to live in these ways, but you are different now; you have been washed clean, set apart, restored, and set on the right path in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed, by the Spirit of our living God. (I Corinthians 6:9-11, The Voice).
I find this passage convicting. And not because of words like “unjust” and “inherit nothing.” Those are pretty scary terms, to be sure.
But for me, the most convicting part of this verse is “Some of you used to live in these ways….”
And if I can be completely honest, I think that is the part that is (or SHOULD be) the most convicting phrase for churches today.
I think we have forgotten how we used to live and have grown to look down at the very people we should be bringing in and lifting up.
I do realize there is another issue. Some of us have lived our lives in the church. Some people were church members nine months before they were born. So there may truly be a sense in which they can say, “I never lived like that!” Good for you. I am glad you never had to experience the hurt and pain that comes with immorality, greed, drunkenness and all those other things.
But we still need Jesus. We are still incomplete without Him.
So we come back to what we have forgotten. When Paul wrote these words, he was not writing to people who were all those negative things. He was writing to the people who used to be all those negative things.
“Some of you used to live in these ways.”
That is Paul’s audience. The people who used to be like that. But are not any longer. Because they found a relationship with God. Because they found a community of believers who would walk alongside them. Because they found people who could hold them accountable. Because they connected with others who came in contact with God’s grace.
But then something happened.
Somewhere along the way, those of us who have received grace and been restored forgot where we came from. We forgot what we needed. We forgot how much help we received.
And we started turning our backs; looking down our noses; tsk-ing.
We said to the people who needed church the most, “You are not welcome here until you can look more like church people ought to look.”
And maybe that’s too harsh. Maybe that’s unfair. Maybe that is too much of an over-generalization.
But let me ask you this: how many people have told you they are afraid to go to church? They are afraid they will be judged? They are afraid people will look down on them? They are afraid that they won’t look good enough? They are afraid they won’t fit in?
There are reasons people think that. There is too much evidence to support their fear.
Too many churches are filled with too many people who have forgotten “you used to live that way.” Too many churches are filled with too many people who have forgotten that they once needed grace.
And if we are going to become the churches, the communities, the places of refuge that God wants us to be, we need to remember.
We need to remember where we came from. We need to remember the grace we have received. We need to remember what it feels like to be lost, broken, and hurting.
And we need to say, “Please let us walk alongside you. You are welcome here.”