Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace. As Hans Kung says, "It deserves neither God's mercy nor Men's trust. The church must constantly be aware that its faith is weak, its knowledge dim, its profession of faith halting, that there is not a single sin or failing which had not in one way or another been guilty of. And though it is true that the church always dissociate itself from sin, it can never have any excuse for keeping sinners at a distance. If the church remains self-righteously aloof from failures, irreligious and immoral people, it cannot enter justified into God's Kingdom. But if it is constantly aware of its guilt and sin, it can live in joyous awareness of forgiveness. The promise has been given to it that anyone who humbles himself will be exalted."
The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God, "They won't let me in Lord, because I am a sinner." "What are you complaining about?" said God. "They won't let Me in either"
Often hobbling through our church doors on Sunday morning comes grace on crutches - sinners still unable to throw away their false supports and stand upright in the freedom of the children of God. Yet, their mere presence in the church on Sunday morning is a flickering candle representing a desire to maintain contact with God. To douse the flame is to plunge them into a world of darkness.
Excerpt taken from The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning, p. 30-31