Every week at church, no matter the sermon topic, the gospel is preached. Afterwards, an invitation is extended to sinners to receive Jesus as Savior. Not a bad idea. However, during the invitation – and at other times, too – the speaker will often say “We’re all sinners.”
And every time, my hackles would rise. Why? Do I believe and rejoice in the truth that Jesus died to save sinners? Yes. Absolutely! Do I think that I’m so holy and sanctified that I no longer sin? Uh, no. So why do the hackles rise?
Last Sunday, at church, during the invitation, I was finally able to put it into words.
I hate when we are all identified as “sinners” because it defines our identity by our past, by what we do, have done, or have not done!
Yes, we still sin, but we are not “sinners.” We are not defined by what we do or don’t do. We are not defined by our past. We have been made new.
We have a new identity. We are defined by who we are, beloved children of the Most High God, bought and paid for with the Precious Blood of Jesus! We are who God says we are. His! It is time God’s people are taught that, and what exactly that means. (I’m still discovering more and more of that, and learning to live there!)
If I am a sinner before, and still a sinner after, what hope is there for me learning to live in Christ? I’m doomed to always be a sinner. What can I expect, except to keep failing, falling down, and missing the mark? We, as believers, are fully aware that we still miss the mark. Often! What do we do with that? Do we just feel defeated all the time? Hopeless?
What we focus on we empower. Who you focus on, you make room for. That’s why we are to turn our eyes to Jesus. Remember the WWJD craze a while back. What would Jesus do in this situation? I think that is still a great question to ask ourselves. Would Jesus flip off that driver? No. Would Jesus rub our noses in our mistakes? No, and we shouldn’t do that to others.
As an example. Still wondering if it is important to focus on the positive – in this case Jesus. Did you ever try to not swear? No, I’m not going to say that. I’m going to clean up my mouth. Nope. I’m not going to do it. But I’m so angry, (or whatever.) #%$&#$ Darn! I said it again. If that hasn’t happened to you, great. But it has for myself and others I know. Works better if we focus on nice things to say instead of what not to say.
We need to focus not on who we were. We need to look to our new identity, and how that person would ask, think, love. That is what changed. We are who Jesus says we are. We can do what Jesus says we can do.
- We are a new creation. We have a new identity. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) It says “has come,” not will come someday. (ESV)
- We are His children. In John 1:12-13, we learn But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God. (ESV)
- We have an inheritance. I understood an inheritance as what was passed on after death. But it also means the benefits we have because we belong to His family. Think of the lives of the Kennedy, Trump or Rockefeller families. Do the children have lack? Can they not afford to pursue their dreams? Do they have position and influence? Do they have a responsibility as to how they represent the family? We have these and more because we are in His family. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph 1:18 NIV)
For in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3: 26-29)
And last, but not least, in none of the letters to the early church, even when rebuking the church for unbelief or sin, never did Paul or any of the other writers refer to the disciples as sinners.
We, the church, the beloved children of God, need to learn how to walk according to the kingdom of God, according to our new identity in Christ. We are Christ’s Body, here on earth – here to do the will of the Father by the power of Holy Spirit. We are His representatives here. Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are not to be spiritual wimps.
Would Father God ever call the Body of His Son “sinners?”