Not too long ago, I heard a funny story from a fellow preacher. When he was about 7 or 8 years old, his mother took him along to a church conference. A man greeted them at the door. Once inside, my friend took a big whiff and blurted, “This church STINKS!”
His mother was aghast, but the greeter took it all in stride. With a slight growl in his voice, he retorted, “Yeah? Well, it’s because we let smelly little kids like you in here.”
I laughed at the punch line of his story, but then I thought, “Hmmm, I think that’ll preach.” Or, at the least, it’ll blog.
The church exists for stinky people. I’m not literally talking about folks with B.O., though I did gently tell a “fragrant” youth member, years ago, that he needed to use deodorant. The church specifically exists for people who smell of sin, reek of failure, carry with them the odor of brokenness and unbelief. For it is in the church where we receive the “washing of water by the Word” (Eph 5:26); it is the household of God that provides a Holy Spirit shower that renews and regenerates (Titus 3:6). The apostle Paul, writing to the church at Corinth (notorious for their moral foibles), reminded them that they “were washed…in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor 6:11).
So don’t let your “stinkiness” keep you from God and His Church. Yes, there are some congregations that offer haughty looks when soiled sinners come in or lifeless programs instead of the cleansing water of the Gospel. Don’t judge the entire Body of Christ by these churches. There are plenty of fellowships out there who aren’t afraid of sin-dirty folks entering their doors, because they know their own spots and stains.
Thankfully, these churches also know how to get clean.