An Evangelist once visited a farmer to talk to him about Christ. “I wouldn’t come to church up there,” the farmer said. “I know old So and So (insert a name) church goer who claims to be a Christian and So and So (insert another name) church goer who claims to be a Christian, and they don’t live any differently from me. I’m as good as they are.” Everywhere the farmer went, he told about the hypocrites in that Church.
A few weeks go by and the Christian went to see the farmer again. “I want to buy a hog,” said the Christian. The farmer showed all his best hogs to him. “I believe I will take that one,” the Christian said. “BUT you don’t want that one. He’s the worst runt in the litter.” “I sure do,” said the Christian. So, they loaded the runt in the truck. The farmer then asks, “What are you going to do with this runt hog?”
The Christian replied, “I plan to take this pig here from your farm and ride all over this area telling folks that this is the kind of hogs you raise?”
“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” the farmer exclaimed. “I have some nice hogs and you want to show people that runt?”…to which the Christian replied, “If it’s fair for the church, it’s fair for your operation!”
It’s a real problem. We face this situation, not with hog farmers, but with our friends, family & co-workers. We fear inviting because they may call us hypocrites. They’d be right because we’re flawed, we’re often broken, but that’s why we’ve come to the Lord. They’d also be wrong because what they don’t see is our desire to repent and grow into the mature Christian that our Lord & Savior wants us to become.
Unfairly, our flaws become obstacles to many. They don’t see that we’re learning and changing. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” [Romans 2:21; cf. 2Sam 12:14]
There will be occasions when a member of the Lord’s Body sins and should be rebuked or withdrawn from [cf. 1Corinthians 5:5], but their sinful behavior is not representative of the congregation as a whole, and it’s certainly not representative of the doctrine of Christ! As the farmer said, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”
Fortunately, the Lord will not judge us as a church, we will face him as individuals [2Corinthians 5:10]. He addressed this issue in the church at Sardis; “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” [Revelation 3:4]. Read the letters to the church at Corinth. If we measure every person in the congregation by the actions of a few, then no one can be saved.
Since others will judge the church as a whole based on the actions of a few, it’s vital that we all strive to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul rebuked those in the church at Rome; “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” [Romans 2:24].
Don’t let folks get away with judging the Lord’s body for the actions of a few. Rather, let them see our Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, & Temperance. Each of which are present in this beautiful congregation. A congregation that exists to serve the Lord as He commands. A congregation that seeks to remain pure from the influence of the world. A congregation that fights the compromises of denominational division. A congregation that desires to keep the commands of Christ out of the great LOVE that He showed them and that we have for Him.
“Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1Peter 2:12].
“WHAT ABOUT HIM?” That’s what a child says when they’ve been caught in their bad behavior. Moms & Dads never accept this as an excuse for bad behavior. Neither does the Lord and neither should we.
A sound congregation of the Lord will have decent, but flawed, folks striving to serve the Lord. It will also have some not striving so much. A sound congregation will have mature Christians and some that are young in the faith. It will have a mix of individuals (cf. 1Cor 12:12-26].
Don’t make a decision about the Lord’s body based on those who are working on their flaws. Decide based on the truth of God’s word and your own need for repair. Besides, you would never refuse a gym because of all the overweight people, would you?