Sanctuary for Saints or Hospital for Sinners?

In Mark chapter 7:1-12 Jesus has an encounter with Pharisees from Jerusalem.

Their issue is that Jesus has fed bread to his disciples who are eating with unwashed hands. According to the Law they are defiled, simply for having been hungry.

Is church a Sanctuary for Saints or Hospital for sinners?

Well I think the image is crystal clear. Jesus provides bread to the defiled. Pharisees have rules about keeping bread out of defiled hands.

Church is where Jesus is… Drunks, Addicts and the “Defiled” are welcome in His Sanctuary.

So about that smelly drunk that wants to attend church? This may be an uncomfortable truth for many of us: Jesus wants to wash them in the water of the Word.

This past weekend at Easter services we enjoyed a detailed discussion of Christ’s work on the cross. That after his death, the Roman guard pierced His side and out came blood and water. As if this image needs much focusing. But here it is:

We are covered by the Blood of the Lamb and Washed (our defilement) by His Word.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Eph. 5:25-27

And this applies at home. If we live with people who have problems (and who doesn’t?) we are accountable in the manner of Christ … to lay down our lives in favor of encouraging, washing in the word and covering our loved ones.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Here’s the thing about attending a loveless Church:

“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Mark 7:6-7

Pharisees gather on Sundays to congratulate themselves. It’s a ritual for them to show how clean they are on the outside.

Jesus said “Defilement comes from within.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Mt. 23-27.

I’m pretty convinced his “New Commandment” is the hardest one to obey. And for this lack of obedience I need to pray everyday, letting him wash my feet.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

How can I sit next to a stinky drunk in “Church” and love them? For most of us, I dare say “It’s a problem.”

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