Is your church a hospital for the broken? – Democratic Herald
By Brian Taylor Special for the Herald Democrat
“And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a great company of tax collectors and other people at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? 31 And Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:29-32
Recently, I was asked a very important question. I had asked a few successful pastors to have lunch with me, and I had a few questions for them. I wanted to probe their brains, so to speak, asking them about church growth, their strategy, and I guess I just wanted to know what their secret to success was. One of the pastors ended our interview with two questions for me. He first asked me what was the greatest need in our community, then he asked me how had God prepared and equipped me to meet that need in his strength and power? I’ve thought about this question, and I couldn’t help but think that in the past 9 years that I’ve been at Forest Avenue Baptist, we’ve always strived to be a place where Broken people are accepted, loved, and where they can be healed through the power and grace of Jesus Christ. As the world continues to darken and times seem to be turning to bad days, I notice the number of broken people increasing. Sometimes they walk into our church on the very first Sunday with tears in their eyes. They can no longer hide the pain of abandonment, the heartache, the anxieties, the shame, the guilt, the sin, the broken relationships and a thousand other arrows that have pierced their souls. They are broken on the back row.
Jesus noticed this about the friends of Matthew (or Levi). Even though it was a party, a party to celebrate Matthew’s exodus from tax collector to disciple of Jesus, there was still a group of injured people in the room. Every Sunday we meet for worship, as do hundreds of other churches in Grayson County, but in every one of those churches there are always many broken, hurt, unwell people. I am sure that in these churches, those who “need a spiritual doctor” often encounter Pharisees who may wonder why they are there. They may wonder why sinners come to church. They may wonder why those who are not “spiritually well” seek a “spiritual hospital” to find healing, but those people who know the word of God so well should understand that Jesus is for sinners. Christ is for the spiritually broken in the last row. It is not the righteous who need repentance (or at least they don’t think they need it), it is the one who knows he is sick who finds Christ as His Great Physician.
As I pondered my colleague’s question, about what our community needs here in South Sherman, I knew the answer was clear: we need a spiritual hospital for broken sinners who want to be healed in Jesus Christ. The world has beaten them, left them for dead, and the church must be prepared to take the time to heal each of their wounds, no matter what. Some will be wounds caused by broken relationships, abuse, sins committed against them and some by them. We must be ready to be the hands and feet of Christ as we bring the wounded back to Christ in this hospital called “the Church”. It will take compassion. It will require more mercy than sacrifice. Sometimes we measure God’s approval of us by our service to God or by our gifts on the plate. It’s wrong. He desires more mercy. The church must rediscover for herself the Christ of the New Testament who longed to sit in the midst of sinners, healing them by giving grace and forgiveness to every word he spoke. When sinners spoke to him, they knew he was different. He was holy, not self-righteous. He was loving, not condescending. He was merciful, not judgmental. He found a way to call sinners to repentance without running away from them. We must find the voice of Christ for this time and this generation that desperately needs the Great Physician and His Hospital – “the Church”.
Brian Taylor began his ministry as a young man in the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa, serving with the SBC International Mission Board. He spent nearly a decade serving as minister of music and youth in the Texas Panhandle. He enjoys preaching and pastoring in South Sherman. He has been married to his wife Sarah for 17 years and they have five children. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.