Perhaps you’ve heard the question, “hey if the Church is founded on Jesus Christ and Christ makes all the difference in a person’s life, why are there so many problems in the church… what about all the scandals….how can I believe in such a flawed institution…too many skeletons in the closet…..”
While it’s not an easy question to answer, it’s not a new question. Certainly even the heroes of the Old testament were flawed from Adam to Abraham, to Moses, to David. The New Testament didn’t get off to a great start either. Before Jesus even went to his death one of the 12 (Judas) betrayed him, and then essentially all the rest “got out of Dodge” as they saw Jesus being crucified. Even after the resurrection, the troops were pretty shaky….and even after Pentecost, despite a dramatic change, the disciples tended to struggle and were not sinless. Wow, it’s a tough question.
In truth, I don’t really need to examine the saints or priests to find examples of this dilemma, I can start with myself. What about me? How am I doing as a witness to the faith? Am I a credible witness to Christ’s transforming love ? Is my life compelling enough to convict the skeptic that Christianity is true? Well, I can tell you on some days, I would be pretty convincing…but other days, not so much. Hmmmmmm, I smell another dilemma.
But is that how we come to a conclusion…weigh the good and the bad…and the heaviest one wins ?!? If this was simply the case, the “good thief” would not have made it… he spent a lifetime in sin and only a moment of repentance .…yet Jesus assured him “this day you will be with me in paradise”. When we give ourselves to Christ, our life should change and be reoriented… sin should begin to fall away, yet in all of this, the key is Jesus himself. We can’t save our self. We need a savior. We need the mercy of God. The best man who ever lived is still a sinner. Scripture says “a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again; but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.”(Prov. 24:16) I’m still a sinner after these many years…but I’m a different man than I was before I gave my life to the Lord…. love, more and more compels me.
So, back to the original question, the original dilemma. Can Christianity be true and compelling if Christians are still sinners? I say yes, because Jesus has our back. He stands in my place. He conquered sin (and Satan and death). In truth Christians should be a credible witnesses to this by the way they live their life; Christians should be living the gospel message, sin should be falling behind, loving God and my neighbor should be more and more evident. Some Christians do it very well but not perfectly…these are called saints; others do it pretty well and keep fighting the fight; and some tend to live scandalous lives and bring dishonor to Christ. Once we give ourselves to the Lord, anything can happen…even the scandalous Christian can change and become a saint. Perhaps that’s the most compelling evidence to the power and truth of Christianity …there’s hope for us all, even the skeptic. And that is very good news.