The Apostle Paul wrote a profound statement in 1 Timothy 1:15-16. He wrote, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." In these verses, Paul identifies himself as the worst of sinners. I think much can be learned from this humble understanding of our own personal sin.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer (a German theologian and pastor Feb. 4, 1906 - April 9, 1945) clarified Paul's statement to an extent when he wrote, "If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all" (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community). Clearly our understanding of our own personal sin is important.
Like Paul, I have grown to see myself as the worst of sinners. I have grown to loathe the sins I commit and wage war against them daily. I am very much a sinner in need of a Savior. If Heaven was awarded on merit, the doors would remain closed for me.
Fortunately, Jesus Christ has saved me from the wretched life I live. He took my sin (removing it completely) and placed it on Himself and paid the penalty I deserve to pay. He died in my place. My sin was punished in Christ Jesus. It is solely by this work of Christ that I am saved.
So, how does this affect the way I pastor Missio Dei? Well, for starters, I love all people and have great empathy for the struggles we all face. The sins of others pale in comparison to my own. I am but a broken man, whose found forgiveness in Jesus and works tirelessly to point others to the salvation I've found. Missio Dei's pastor is a sinner, I freely admit it. I will undoubtedly let many of you down at times. Christ followers aren't perfect, we're forgiven. Be very wary of spiritual leaders who believe (or feed the perception) that they have it all together!
Bonhoeffer writes, "Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!" (Life Together)
Are you tired of living the lie? Are you tired of your own hypocrisy? Missio Dei seeks to be a safe place where you can take your next step toward Christ. I'll be with you every step of the way, while demonstrating the same grace toward you that Jesus has bestowed upon me. Stop by the Stoney Creek Inn on Wednesday night (7pm) to hear more about this Jesus and how He can work positive change in your life.