Allow me to paint a picture for you:
I knew a man in my old neighborhood. He was an old leathery-faced balding biker with facial tattoos. He was the kind of guy that when you saw him, and his scowl heading in your direction, you thought about crossing the street, just in case. I met him at my old church’s neighborhood food pantry. Once you got to know him, you found out his wasn’t that bad. He was headstrong and had a temper sometimes, but he could also be quite sweet in some ways. He was also drunk or high around us too many of those times to count.
Including on Sundays.
Eventually, on occasion, he would come to church, sit way in the back and listen to the worship. If you glanced his way, you’d be surprised to see this old biker guy with tears in his eyes. He’d always leave at the end of worship, that was enough church for him, but not before leaving a couple of dollars on the pastor’s chair up front. I don’t think he was trying to buy his way into heaven. I do think for a guy that had so many struggles and temptations to overcome, it was the best he could muster as an outward expression repentance and worship. He didn’t get it like so many of us armchair theologians do. But I believe he still got it in a raw, unpolished way. He passed away a few years ago, never seeming to gain a true and continuous earthly victory over all his issues, but I do believe he rests with the Lord today, finally free of the curse of all his struggles with sin.....