Moralism: Keeping the Riff-Raff Out of Church

Corcovado jesusImage by doug88888 via Flickr

As I look at this church in America, I struggle with this quote from John Fischer:

Much of what outsiders struggle with when it comes to church and Christianity is an imagined level of performance they assume is required of those on the inside. People think a certain behavior level is expected– a kind of incorrect thinking that keeps out the very people for whom the gospel of Jesus Christ exists. This is what keeps single moms away from church, even when they want to come and desperately need friendship and support. This is what keeps out gays and lesbians who are genuinely seeking God. This is what keeps out those who have had abortions, and the men who have caused them. Not to mention recovering addicts, ex-cons, the poor, the homeless, the mentally challenged. It’s starting to look like the crowd that followed Jesus around when he was here – lepers, the deranged, demon possessed, the blind, the lame, and the social misfits.

The church's incessant desire for moralism, this assumed standard of behavior, can make it impossible, not only for the message of grace to be heard but for it even to be proclaimed.  Where is grace when we tell societal riff-raff that they need to change their ways before they can become "one of us?"
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