A Hospital for Sinners
As I write this, I am recovering from a bout from the 24 hour flu. As I look at the title of this piece, I still feel like I could use a hospital. There is something humbling about feeling sick. You never realize how weak and helpless you can feel until you are down for a day, a week or a month being sick. I know that many of you have felt like this over the past few months. It is a feeling that none of us like or look forward to. However, it is just a part of living in a sin-cursed world. Where there is sin, there will be illness. That is just the way it works.
This diagnoses our biggest problem. We are sinners living in a sinful world. There is no getting around this fact. Wake up in the morning and you will be greeted in the mirror by the face of a sinner. The head that hits the pillow at the end of the day is the head of a sinner. This is who we are. We are sinners who have an in-bred desire to sin. Let's be honest, when nobody's looking, we will gravitate to that which is sinful. That is who we are by nature.
So what are we to do? Is there a place we can go to get a treatment to help us deal with this sinful nature? There is! It is called the church. If you have read the sign out in front of church, you have seen a great truth abouth the church. THE CHURCH : A HOSPITAL FOR SINNERS. If you are a sinner, you need to be in church. This is where we get the treatment we so deperately need.
There is a sense among those who are outside the church, and unfortunately among some who are inside the church, that the church is a place for good people. Perhaps this is fostered by the ideas that we have received as a member. I guess that we do this ourselves. However, this needed instruction leads our new member candidates to one great truth: They are sinners in need of a Savior.
This is what you need. This is what I need. And this is what is given to us here in the church. We receive regular treatment. Week in and week out we receive the diognosis of Law and Gospel preaching and the medicine of the Holy Sacraments. We receive them because the Lord wants us to have them. He wants us to be treated and know the healing that comes from Jesus Christ.
But this healing is frustrated if we allow the false idea that the church is only for good people. There is not a doctor at the door of the hospital checking to see if someone is WELL-enough to come into the hospital. Rather there is a doctor looking for those who are ill and in need of treatment. This is the attitude that you and I are called to here at Zion. We need to be on the lookout for fellow sinners who need the treatment of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ!
We have defined our mission as spreading the Gospel and growing in fellowship. This can only be done when we see Zion as a hospital for sinners. When we realize that we are sinners in need of treatment, then we are open to welcoming other sinners who are in need of the care we have received in Word and Sacrament ministry. In the days to come, would you prayerfully be on the lookout for who need to see Doctor Jesus? Those in need of the Doctor Jesus can be your children who have drifted from Church. They could be parents who have grown cold in their relationship with Jesus. They are neighbors and friends who have never really had that saving relationship with Jesus. You know them. God has placed them in your path. Please, for the sake of their eternal souls, bring them to the hospital. Not the one for physical bodies. Bring them to the hospital for their souls - the church! You will be amazed at how quickly they, and you, recover! See you in Church!