Come All Ye Sinful
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms
Joseph Hart compiled a book of hymns called “Hart’s Hymns” in the 18th century including the song, “Come, Ye Sinners Poor and Needy.” He knew that he was a poor and needy sinner. And though he was sick and sore, he believed Jesus’ arms were wide open with grace. And from the overflow of this reality, he wrote about how sinners are welcome into His embrace.
Sadly, most unbelievers I know do not feel this same “arms open wide” sentiment from the church. Instead of a safe and warm place for the hurting and tired, the stigma of the church has become a place for only the moral and well behaved. People who drink, smoke, or chew tobacco or even associate with those who do are not welcome. Even more unwelcome to the church are people with addictions, people with pasts that haunt them, homosexuals, people from broken marriages, bi-racial marriages, doubters, people of different religions, and basically anyone that does not behave like a Christian should. They feel uncomfortable and rejected by the Christian church. This reality is so prevalent that it is becoming more common for people within the church dealing with any of the aforementioned conditions to hide the truth about their lives for fear that who they really are would not be accepted among the well behaved. In light of the Gospel story, where for our sake Jesus became poor, died in our place, and rose victoriously over death, the church shouldn’t keep sinners at arms length. Nor should it be a place where you must get your act together before you join.
The church should be a place where all the wounded run to for bandages, where the dirty and foul-mouthed find true friendship, where needs are met, and where kindness and grace saturate every soul. The church should be a haven where all sinners feel at home. It starts with those who are saved. When the people who make up the local body remember that they were once impoverished by sin and destined for eternal separation from our Lord, God will begin to make room in our hearts. A few believers with room in their hearts will begin to make room in their living rooms and space in the pews.
Our prayer for Declaration Church is to never forget our original poverty and stay nestled in Jesus’ rescuing embrace. With both of these realities in clear view, we want to bring heaven to earth. We want to be filled with members that have space in their heart and in their living rooms for the lost and hurting, we want our church to be home to sinners.
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come…. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. Matt 22:1 -3, 8-10