Someone asked D.L. Moody if he was filled with the Holy Spirit and he answered, “Yes but I’m leaky.” I think he had the right attitude. The apostle Paul talked more than any other New Testament writer about being filled with the Spirit. In Romans 8 he explained that if one didn’t have the Spirit of Christ he wasn’t a true follower of Christ at all. He said, “If we are led by the Spirit then we are the sons of God. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God.” In Ephesians 5:18 he said, “Do not be drunk with wine in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.” In Galatians 5 he talked about being led by the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit and being spiritual.
There was no one who would exemplify being spiritual and being led by the Spirit more than Paul outside of Jesus Christ. Yet he is the one who described himself as “foremost among sinners.” He was amazed that God in His grace would save someone like him who had done so many things wrong. In Romans 7 Paul described the inner battle that went on in his life and goes on in every other persons life who is led by the Spirit. He said, “In me dwells nothing that is good.” He said that when he planned to do right he found himself doing wrong. When he determined to stop some bad habit or some sin he found himself doing it all the more.
Jesus was the one who had the Spirit without measure. But he was drawn to those who struggled with sin, failure and weakness. He chose those who were ordinary workers who had problems, weaknesses and kept failing in many ways. It never mattered whether a person was rich or poor, educated or uneducated, respected or rejected by people. He called the hated Zaccheus the head tax collector from a tree to tell him he was going home with him for dinner. He raised the religious leader Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Minutes before He healed a woman who had a bleeding problem that had gone on for years and had been treated by doctor after doctor until she had spent everything she had without any relief. She was regarded as unclean by the religious folk of the day. But Jesus accepted and healed her. He talked with the Samaritan woman at the well and brought her salvation even though she had been a moral failure rejected by the people of her own city, yet he sent her to town to be his witness to the people.
Jesus declared to the people of his hometown Nazareth that he had come to fulfill the promise of Isaiah that the messiah would preach the good news to the poor and declare the acceptable year of the Lord.
The churches described in the Bible weren’t made up of people who had their lives all together or who had conquered their sin problem. The intent for the church was for it to be the body of Christ and to have the same heart toward those in sin, failure and problems that Jesus had.
Jesus came to bring us grace and truth. The law was given by Moses. Churches tend to stress the fact that they preach and teach the truth. Sometimes they even claim that they “Have the truth” implying that those who disagree with them don’t. I can’t help but wonder why we don’t stress to the same degree that “We have grace”. Often the least graceful place in town is the church preaching the truth. Why is it so common for people to quit coming to church when they have failed to live as they should? Why do people try to hide from those who go to church with them, their failures and sins? Shouldn’t the church be the very place a person rushes to when trouble comes?
When there are major disasters around the world the churches tend to come into their God given place. It is churches that tend to be there for the physically hurting, the homeless and the orphans. But it is often the case that as a church we are better at reaching out to the physically hurting than we are at reaching out to the morally and spiritually hurting. If Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan today, who would he say was the one passing by on the other side of the road while the injured man was laying on the other side? Who would take the place of the Levite or the priest? Would it be the Christ followers who were pictured as the one who risked his own life and put himself out to help the hurting person? I hope so. More than that I would hope that I would be the one who helped instead of the one who preached to others about helping while doing nothing to actually help.