Should We Still Use the Word “Sinners”?

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 St. Timothy 1.15

Of all the words in the Bible, “sinner” is surely amongst the most misunderstood. In our day and age it carries with it overtones of judgementalism and gloom, all pointing fingers and pursed lips. Surely, say many, we should get rid of the word from the church. After all, it might put people off.

I must say that I think this is a mistake! At its root, “sinner” simply means someone who is not perfect. It does not mean that the person is as bad as they can be, or that their actions can be ranked as ‘worse’ or ‘better’ than the person who lives next door to them. In fact it is more mundane that, a sinner is someone who makes mistakes and is prone to temptation. It is someone who cannot claim to have been perfect at all times, and in all places. A “sinner” is, in fact, everyone.

There is a great liberation in realising this. Christianity does not demand that you be perfect. In fact it asks the opposite, it suggests that you acknowledge that you are imperfect. It was for “sinners” that “Christ Jesus came into the world”. As Jesus says in Mark 2:17: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”. The waiting room of the surgery is full of those who know they are unwell, and wish to get better. The church is full of those who know they are not perfect, but want to know God’s forgiveness of their sins. And then have his help in living better lives, to leave those sins behind.

So, sinner: rejoice! God does not insist you have to be perfect before you come to him, all he desires is that you acknowledge you are not perfect. Christ was sent to deal with your sin, so cast it onto his shoulders. And leave it there.

So God Loved

So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (St. John 3.16) - These words strengthen as we realise the great activity of God, motivated by his love. As you receive the offer of Christ to come aboard, you are heartened by the assurance that he can pull you from the water. The hand is outstretched - grab hold!

The Wilderness (Psalm 63)

“A Psalm of David, When He Was in the Wilderness of Judah” (Psalm 63) - Many of you will be shielding at home, and facing Sundays separated from the church building and its congregation. Perhaps you might use this Psalm as a guide for your prayers, as you long to be back.

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