There is a popular meme on Facebook that says, “I’d rather attend church with messed up people who love God, than religious people who dislike messed up people.”
So, let’s break that down in sections.
The church is the body of Christ comprised of those who are to love (obey) God, who have died with him to sin, and who should be living to him and to his righteousness. So the church is the people of God, not a place you go, and not a building built by human hands, but a spiritual building made up of living stones, the body of Christ. We, the people of God, are the church.
[Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Ac 2:42-47; Rom 12:3-8; 1 Co 12; Eph 4:1-16; 1 Pet 2:4-6; Col 1:18; Col 2:19; Eph 1:22; Eph 2:19-22; Eph 5:23-30]
So, if this is a gathering of the church, the body of Christ, it should be a gathering of people who love and obey the Lord, who are no longer walking in sin, but who are walking in righteousness. But we do know it is possible for true believers in Jesus to fall back into sin and to be in need of revival, so some of them could be in the condition of having fallen back into sin.
So what does it mean to be “messed up”? A mess is chaos, confusion, disorder, disarray, disaster, and trouble. And “messed up” means failed, ruined, abortive, futile, and to miss the mark (sin). And what does it mean to love God? It means to obey him. For if we do not obey him, in practice, then we do not love him and we don’t know him, and we do not have eternal life in him. And we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
[Matthew 7:21-23; John 14:15-24; Romans 2:6-8; 1 John 1:5-9; 1 John 2:3-6; 1 John 3:4-10; 1 John 5:2-3; Galatians 5:16-21; Galatians 6:7-8).
And who are the true (pure) religious (not false religious)? They are those who believe in Jesus with God-given faith – the spiritual, sacred, devout, moral, virtuous, reverent, holy, godly, faithful, loyal, reliable, worshipers of God, pure, undefiled, unspotted from the world, merciful, and loving. It doesn’t mean they are perfect, though, but they are living righteously.
So, let’s put it all together.
If you would rather be in gatherings with people who are messed up, then you would rather be in gatherings with people who are living failed, futile, and sinful lives, as their practice. And people who are living failed and sinful and futile lives are not loving God because they are not obeying God, so you can’t be “messed up” and loving God, too. And if you don’t obey God, you do not have eternal life with God (1 John 2:3-6; Matthew 7:21-23).
And you would rather be with people living in sin than with those who are godly, faithful to the Lord, morally pure, upright and obedient to the Lord, in practice, who you regard as disliking messed up people when, perhaps, what they dislike is the sin, and out of love they want to see the “messed up” free from sin. And this absolutely is what is taking place in “the church” today.
In fact, twice now I have attempted to engage in conversation with Christians who have posted this meme, about 7 months apart from each other, and both times the individuals unfriended me, even though I was not rude or harsh or unloving. In fact, with this last one, all I did was ask her to look at the Scriptures, in comparison with what the meme was saying, for I felt they did not agree, and I asked her to pray about it. And she dumped me. She refused to test what she was posting against the Scriptures.
Yet, do the falsely religious exist still today? Yes! They are called hypocrites, who profess one thing with their lips while they do another. So even your “messed up” people could fit into the category of the “falsely religious” for they make a profession of Christ as their Lord but they do not honor him as Lord of their lives, but they continue in deliberate and habitual sin.
Yet, does legalism still exist today? Yes! But in the minority. Legalists are like the Pharisees and the Judaizers who insist on externals which have nothing to do with holy living, and sometimes while they are secretly engaged in sin themselves. But please don’t confuse true righteousness for legalism. If someone teaches walks of holiness and against living in sin, he or she is not a legalist. He or she is teaching the truth of the gospel.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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