Christians are often portrayed as hypocrites because we call upon each other to reject sin and immoral behaviour - and yet we are no better it seems than the wider population at doing this. We are just as fallen, just as broken and we sin against God just like everyone else does.
The truth is that Christians are the same as everyone else - except for one thing. We know that we are in need of God's forgiveness, and so we turn to him, and we acknowledge our faults. When we preach against immorality or injustice, we do so knowing that we too need to repent of these same things - we too need to rely on the saving grace of God. We should not preach in order to condemn, but to convict and convince those who are outside the church to come in.
That means that we are called to speak not from a place of judgement, but from a place of genuine compassion and love. We are not called to judge those who are outside the church, rather we are called to show them God's love, and demonstrate his compassion and forgiveness in our own language, and behaviour.
If your experience of the church is not in accordance with what I have written here, if you have been subjected to judgement, or ridicule. If you have suffered abuse or neglect by the church, let me just say - Sorry.
I want you to know that you are welcome here - you are welcome to come into the church and be a part of our community - you are welcome to worship, to hear the word of God read and preached. You are welcome to receive the Grace of God in His Sacraments.
Being a Christian does mean that we are called to turn from our sins - from our wrongdoing, but transformation takes time. Transforming our lives to truly follow Jesus, is not something that magically happens when we are baptised, it doesn't happen magically if we just say a single prayer either - transforming takes time, and it takes commitment. It takes many many prayers, and many many mistakes and many times of repentance.
So no matter what your background - no matter how sinful you believe you are - or others have said you are - know that you are in fact loved by God, and that his church is open to you - you will not be turned away and you will not be judged.
The church is not perfect, we are weak sinful human beings just like everyone else. We need just as much forgiveness - and sometimes more - as everybody else. We truly are like a hospital ward for sinners, just trying our best to live the life of love compassion and hope that we are called to - and we welcome you - come and walk with us, come and learn with us. Sometimes we will stumble, but together we can stand back up and through God's grace we will together be transformed - redeemed, remade and forgiven.
Fr Daryl - West Wyalong Anglican Church
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