A Kingdom of Sinners

Date: 24 April 2022

Sermon Text: Luke 5:1– 6:16

Speaker: Ps Luwin Wong

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If you enter the concourse of the SMU campus in town, you would come across a fitness centre with state of the art equipment. It’s floor-to-ceiling glass walls, so this wonderful gym is clearly visible to anyone passing by. Now, as a student in SMU, I must have walked pass that gym hundreds of times, and on more than a few occasions, I thought to myself, that gym is built for guys like me. Who needs to bulk up, beef up, put on some muscle, that’s the whole purpose of a gym.

But as you can tell, I never did enter the gym, not once in four years. Because the glass walls meant you could clearly see the sort of guys who were in it. And those guys are ripped, biceps the size of my thighs. I’m going, “What are you in the gym for? How heavy are your textbooks? What, in your day-to-day life, are you lifting, that requires that much of strength? Are you preparing for the off-chance scenario that if the world returns to a hunter-gatherer way of life, you will be able to catch the biggest bison?”

I don’t have the answers, but the implicit message was clear. The guys you find in the gym, who occupy the gym, the guys who belong in the gym are those who are strong and fit.

It made me feel like if I ever wanted to enter the gym, I had better look like them first, you know work out first, on my own at home, I guess. Now, of course, had I actually entered, I have no doubt that the student volunteer behind the front desk would welcome me, and tell me that gym is open to one-and-all, to all shapes-and-sizes, and they’re glad I came.

But that’s besides the point. Regardless of what they say, I would not feel like I belonged. Why would I, when everyone else in there looked a particular way, which is different from me?

And friends, I wonder if that isn’t the way that those outside, the unchurched, see the church. That that they see the church as a place where the well-behaved, the held-together, the bible-knowing, the law-abiding, temptation-resisting, sin-overcoming, Jesus-loving, others-serving, tender-hearted, Spirit-filled people of God gather.

And therefore, it is not a place where sinners belong. It’s not a place for the wayward, the sin-struggling, the temptation-succumbing, the religion-skeptical, the doctrine-doubting, the faith-questioning, the broken-hearted, soul-fractured, regret-filled, sad and angry, lonely and empty person who is hanging on to life day-by-day by the thinnest of threads.

On one of our Christmas services, I met a young adult who hasn’t been to church for a number of years. And I asked her, “Ever thought of coming back?” She said, “Maybe, there are some things I need to work on first”.

It’s me thinking: “Maybe I need to work out first before I enter the gym”.

In today’s passage, the Word of Christ to calls out to sinners. His kingdom is a kingdom of Sinners. That is our starting point this morning.

A kingdom of sinners.