“Church is not a museum for saints, its a hospital for sinners.” This phrase or something like it has been bandied about for years in order to keep Christians clear on what they should expect as members of Christ’s church. Scriptural support for such a statement comes from Jesus' words to the Pharisees in Mark 2:16, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” At first hearing the clever retort feels right.
However, it may be misleading. The church is not a hospital for sinners. First of all, this phrase gets abused by people who like to think of sin as an illness and not a personal guilt. Oftentimes people throw this one liner out to lessen their personal responsibility for error. The same could be said of the thoughtless excuse, “I’m only human.” or “Hey, we’re all sinners.” In a related fashion we like to use this phrase in order to dilute the depravity of our sins into just mistakes, temporary boo boos, and poor decisions. Finally, this phrase gives the false impression that the Church is a place where people get fixed, bandaged, improved, ‘your best life now’ sort of snake oil store.
Dear fellow broken people who coincidentally do the majority of the breaking, the church is not a hospital for sinners, she is a morgue for the dead. Yet, it is the strangest of morgues—people arrive dead as doornails and leave alive!
Jesus did not come to fix the world or us. We are not simply sick or broken. We are dead. We also are not simply victims. We are the enemy, the evil dead only wanting to rebel against our maker. Jesus did not come to fix us. He came to kill us and raise us up. Just as He died and rose, He came to raise the dead! He came to smash us apart and make us new.
Paul makes this clear in Romans 6, “don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Indeed you will find only sinners kneeling before the body and blood of the Lord. But their hope is not that God will improve them a little, but that He has killed them and made them alive directly by the speaking of His Word! This we hold by faith, though one day we will see our resurrected Lord with our own resurrected eyes!
God does not look at Christians as patients in various stages of improvement. But instead He sees sons, who once were lost but now are found, who were dead and are now alive.