So y'all know I'm working part-time in a health food store, and we sell a ton of vitamins and supplements and cleanses and dieting stuff. We're a health food store and we have stuff to help you stay healthy.
So when I started working there, I was amazed.
By the customers!
Because I mean, we're a health food store. When I think about customers at a health food store I'm thinking about all those super-fit moms who work out and stuff (kudos to you, ladies) and the gym buffs and the doctors and nurses and those people.
It's much easier to compartmentalize and generalize people than I thought.
But I was wrong.
We have a few of those people, sure. But do you want to know who the vast majority of the people I see are? (weird sentence alert, sorry guys)
The drug addicts. The grungy single moms who haven't had the time or energy to put on real pants (kudos to you, ladies, for getting out of the house and doing stuff). The sick little old men with their oxygen tanks and their suspenders. The fat ones (yeah, I said fat, sue me.). The unhealthy ones. The sick ones.
And I was really flippin' confused for a while about that. Like, what are you doing here? You're not healthy. Don't you know this is a health food store?
Think about it, Scotty. Think about it.
I work at a health food store. But my main customers aren't the gym buffs and the super-fit moms and the nurses. They're the drug addicts and the overweight and the grungy.
And I'm asking myself why they're there.
They're there to get healthy. That's my job!! My job is to help you be healthy! My job is to point you to the prune juice when you come in telling me you're constipated! My job is to hand you some Resveratrol if you've got heart problems! My job is to give you some arnica gel if you have muscle pain and Hyland's™ anxiety relief lozenges if you're anxious. My job is to help you be healthy.
Do doctors expect to only see healthy people?
No. That's ridiculous. You can shake your head.
So why would I expect to only see healthy people in a health food store? You're there because you're brave and you know you need to be healthy and you're taking the first steps and I am so proud of you. I will not turn you away. I will not frown in confusion. I will not sneer. I will not demand to know why you think you can come to a health food store when you're obviously not healthy.
So I figured that out. Welcome to Nutters, friends, let's get healthy.
But don't we do the same thing in church?
The meth addict sneaks in and curls up in the back pew, barely able to keep his eyes open. The alcoholic stumbles in, clutching his head and crying blood-shot tears. The homeless family slips in inconspicuously, heads lowered. We know them. We see them there.
And our reaction is far too often one of disgust.
"Why are they here? They're obviously not church people."
"Ew, couldn't they at least have showered first? They reek."
"Honey, don't look at them. They're different."
Heck yes, they're different. Everybody's different.
There's a verse in one of the Gospels when Jesus kind of slaps his audience across the face a bit, saying (and I paraphrase) something like "Do healthy people need a doctor? No! Sick people do."
Do healthy people need Resveratrol and prunes and HCL? Maybe, maybe not. Do healthy people really need me to spend two hours with them, walking through the vitamin department, finding supplements that will make them well? Nah.
Sick people need that. Unhealthy people need that.
Do perfect people need to be saved?
Trick question. There are no perfect people. But there are people who think they're perfect, and the Bible says that it is so much harder for them to become children of God because they don't see that they even have a problem.
Do Christians need to be saved? No. We already are.
Do nonChristians need to be saved? Yes!!!!
And truly, where else does the meth addict have to go to learn about Jesus? Where else does that homeless family have? Who else is going to teach the alcoholic how to be saved?
Those things - those are the jobs of the church. And those people, those people that smell and drool and fall asleep in church and wear the same clothes all the time... those are the people who need the church. They need Jesus. (we all need Jesus, amen?)
So why do we mock them? Do we mock the girl with cancer when she shows up at the ER with a fever? Do we mock the boy at UrgentCare who has tonsilitis?
No. We know they need to be there.
And let me tell you right now, those people who don't smell great or look great or have a lot of money? We should know that they need to be in our churches. let's reach out to them.
Welcome to my church. Let's get healthy.