This morning on the way home from church I saw a friend watering the trees in his front yard, so I stopped to see how he and his wife are. She has health issues, and I thought she might be sick. She’s fine. He’s fine.
“I’m not used to you being home on Sunday morning. You’re usually in church.”
“Yeah, I can’t go to church right now.”
I stared. “How long until you can go to church?”
“Depends. Three to five years, they figure.”
See, this friend spent some time in jail last year for sexual assault of a child. Now, he is restricted from being where he might victimize another child. I understand that. I want my children safe, too. But I have to say, I wonder about the logic of keeping someone from the very place where they can find the One who can heal them. And, yes, Jesus is everywhere. People find Jesus right where they are. I know in the Bible, Jesus found folks right where they were. In fact, if you read through the Gospels, you could argue that Jesus found more folks alone in their solitude than He did in the throngs at the Temple.
However, Jesus also promoted fellowship. There is not one person Jesus encountered that He said, “Now, go be by yourself and live a holy life on your own because you are strong enough to do that.”
No. Christianity is about community and being part of a group that holds you up, prays for you, encourages you, and holds you accountable.
The great part of being a drunk and pill addict? I could still be part of that. I could still go to church. Unlike the drunks that wreak of alcohol, the addict that smells like marijuana, the gay couple that comes in together, or the sex offender with a label, I was allowed in church. I was allowed to hear the Word, to sing songs that spoke to me, to be in the presence of God. Not everyone is allowed that because not everyone can pull themselves together enough to hide their sin and brokenness well enough to be acceptable in the house of the Savior who is trying to reach them.
Thank God I was just a drunk.