One of the hardest thing for pastors to do is prepare a sermon that will meet everyone’s needs. Usually, the message will address a specific need or topic but for some listeners, it may not be relevant to their lives. As I thought about what to write about for today, I wanted to find something all of us could relate to.
So today’s thought I think applies to everyone. It begins with a universal truth – all of us are sinners – young, old, men, women, parents and children. But along with this truth, this message contains good news for them.
Now for many in our world, the concept of humanity being sinners is foreign. Why is sin is difficult for people to understand or deal with? We forget one of the biggest hindrances to acknowledging sin is our pride. It keeps us from dealing with sin, or at best deal with it in a very superficial manner.
The truth is, some of us do our best to ignore sin. We sin and do what we can to ignore it. This all began in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned but did not acknowledge it until God asked. And when God asked, they still tried to conceal and cover up their sin to the point of blaming others for their actions.
All of us at one time or another have denied our sinfulness. To recognize, to admit, and to be convicted of your sin is to receive a passport into God’s presence. To be willing to admit that you are a sinner by omission or by commission or by disposition is to put yourself in a position where Jesus Christ can minister to you. It is human nature.
But in the Person of Jesus, we find someone who was known to reach out to the lost. In fact, in Matthew 11:19, He was described this way: “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
Jesus was criticized by those who considered themselves to be religious because He associated with those whom they considered being common sinners. To this charge, He pled guilty. He told three stories to illustrate His guilt. They are recorded in Luke 15.
In the story of the lost sheep, Jesus describes the shepherd’s sense of loss and feeling of sorrow because one is away from the safety of the sheepfold. In the story of the lost coin, He expresses the concern of God for those who have lost values. In the story of the wayward son, He describes the waiting Father and His continuing concern for those who waste and ruin their lives. The point of these parables was to dramatize Jesus’ concern and desire to save sinners from their sins.
Jesus was compassionate toward sinners. Think about the conversion of Matthew. He was a tax collector and in His joy, he hosted a banquet in Jesus’ honour. Matthew invited his friends, who also were sinners, to this banquet. They felt comfortable and loved in the presence of Jesus.
All through His ministry, Jesus demonstrated this concern for sinners. He reached out to every marginalized person society brought before Him. There was the woman at the well in John 4. As a divorced Samaritan woman, she would have experienced discrimination from all sides.
But it was not just the marginalized He reached out to. Jesus was compassionate toward those whose self-righteousness was in the way from connecting with God. In Acts 8, we read about a young Pharisee named Saul. He was a rising star and determined to rid the world of this new movement. But on the road to Damascus, Jesus met him and through Saul’s life the world was transformed.
Sin is one of those things that has a huge ripple effect beyond our actions. Sometimes when we sin, we think it only affects us, but in the church, sin affects the whole community of faith.
Jesus had such compassion on people and He grieved because of the effects of sin. One of the words translated “sin” means to “miss the mark” or to “fall short of a standard.” It is a failure to be less than what we could be.
But the effect of sin is not limited to us. It affects others as well. Sin by its very nature is destructive. It destroys that which is highest and best about us. It breaks fellowship and undermines relationships including our relationship with God. Sin grieves and breaks the heart of God. It was sin that separated people from God. It is sin that causes people to suffer away from God.
But here is the Good News for all of humanity. Christ Jesus came to save us from our sins. He came to deliver us from the power of sin. He came to save us for the glory of God. He wants to use us in a mission to others.
But for Christ to use us, He needs to work within us. We need to forsake our “me first” and self-righteous attitude. We need to take a good look at ourselves as recognize and acknowledge that are sinners in need of His mercy, grace and help. There is hope for the person who is willing to admit that he or she has fallen short and needs help. The Savior is available for those who are honest enough to admit that they are sinners.