The church is filled with liars, thieves, cheats, gossips and selfish hypocrites. Isn't that beautiful! Why am I so eager to debate that? It's the truth, I used to see it as the tragic truth, but it's the beautiful truth of the Gospel that Jesus died for liars, thieves, cheats, gossips and selfish people. I used to try to embrace Christianity to defend it, to give it a better name, I used to think that the "good Christians" need to stick around so the church would look better without realizing then that I'm just adding to the number of sinners when I joined the church.
When Jesus called Matthew, one of the disciples, to follow him. He was at his tax booth at the sea. That's amazing for two reasons that I can see:
First, we should know that the tax collectors back then, collected taxes from their fellow jews to raise money for the Roman Empire that was oppressing the jews and if that wasn't enough, they also collected more than they were asked. They were hated, for good reason. It's like a jew collecting money from other jews to give to the Nazis but at the same time, adding to the price to collect money for themselves in the process. Matthew was in the middle of his selfishness and sin when Jesus called him. He didn't leave his profession and clean himself up first for Jesus to recognize him. Jesus recognized, loved and called him in the midst of that.
Second, Matthew was at his tax booth at the sea. Though the Bible doesn't say this part, I assume that Matthew collected taxes from the fishermen, because his booth was set up at the sea. The other disciples that Jesus called were fishermen, John, James, Andrew and Peter. Which means, it's pretty logical to assume that those fishermen knew Matthew. They probably dreaded seeing Matthew, they might have seen his booth from their boats and maybe even avoided any contact with this man since he stole their hard earned money and gave it to the oppressing military. They probably worked hard days in the sun casting nets, pulling in the heavy fish, lifting oars or sails and seeing Matthew on the shore in his booth, possibly even in the shade of his booth. Sitting there.
John, James, Andrew and Peter left everything they had to follow Jesus. It was later that Jesus called Matthew from his tax booth. Don't you think they'd be like "not him Jesus, anyone but him". I bet they dreaded seeing Jesus call Matthew.
When we follow Jesus we are joining everyone else that Jesus called. We can't forget where we were when we were called. We forget as if we were seeing miracles before we met Jesus.
There are plenty of people in our church that have hurt us, stole from us or whatever else. But they aren't the only ones. If we limited church to people that haven't hurt us, then we wouldn't be able to join ourselves.