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Weekly Devotion 

Published 6/6/2023
Hosea 5:15-6:6; Romans 4:13-25; Matthew 9:9-13
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The people that come to church can be some of the worst people. At least, that’s how society views us. We’re all just a bunch of hypocrites, they say. We act all holy and righteous, but then are found to be just as terrible a person as the rest of society. So, what’s the deal? Why do we allow such terrible people into our midst?
This has long been the greatest misunderstanding about the church. The church is expected to be a place for the holy and righteous to gather, those who supposedly have their lives all together. This is why it shocks the world to find out the opposite. So many in our world are shocked and astounded to find such “hypocrites” within the church walls, who talk all about holiness and righteousness, but are anything but!
Consider our Gospel lesson for this week. Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee when he sees a particular tax collector, Matthew. Jesus tells him to follow, so Matthew does! Matthew then goes and prepares a feast for Jesus and invites many of his friends. It’s then that the Pharisees arrive and are astounded by what they find. “And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Matthew 9:11. These tax collectors were considered the lowest of Jews because they had “betrayed” their people to serve Rome.
Just as it would be wrong to assume a hospital is full of the healthy, so is the church. The Church is not a gathering for righteous, but a safe haven for the sinner. As Paul would later write, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. In the church are those who are sick and in need of a savior. As Jesus also says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick,” Matthew 9:12. Those who enter a hospital are those who know they are ill. In the same way, those who enter the church are those who know they are anything but perfect.
Jesus has invited you to follow him, just as he has Matthew. In following Jesus, we will learn what Jesus means. “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners,” Matthew 9:13. It is astounding that Jesus would have mercy on any of us. But he desires it because he desires you! Jesus has come to call sinners to repentance that they may be wrapped in his righteousness within the Church. To fully show his mercy, Jesus offers the perfect sacrifice by offering up himself upon the cross. By the mercy of God, sinners are “healed”. They are forgiven so that we may live a new, healthy, and redeemed life in Christ!
Pastor Sorenson
Almighty and most merciful God, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to seek and to save the lost. Graciously open our ears and our hearts to hear His call and to follow Him by faith that we may feast with Him forever in His kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!