Tuesday, April 21, 2015

S is for Sin

Sin, the big bad elephant in the room of religion. At least in Christianity. Every religion deals with the idea that we are not wholly good. We do things that displease the divine, and we have to then make it right. Maybe that happens through prayer, or sacrifice, or good deeds, but however it happens, it must still happen.

In some churches, we are apologetic as we talk about sin. We shrug our shoulders and just admit our own sin and halfheartedly point out the sins of others. In other churches sin is the main course: the heart of the sermon, accompanied by judgment, condemnation, and an altar call.

The concept of sin is sneered at by some, seen as an archaic relict of ancient beliefs. Others believe that if we just talked about sin MORE, there would be less evil in the world. We all love to point out the sins of others, and compare their sins to our own.

I believe that sin talk is good news, news that points us to greater and greater love and gratitude. And so here's my own talk about sin.

First, as a Christian, I am not condemned. I stand pure and unblemished in God's eyes (Romans 8). If I died right in the middle of committing adultery, I would still be able to stand before God and enter into my reward, because Jesus has reconciled me with the Divine. No purgatory. No payment required. The only thing I can do when I sin is to admit it to God. And that's not required either. Because if I don't know a sin, and therefore don't confess it, I'm still absolved by Jesus.

So why look at my sins at all? Because as I acknowledge my sins, I grow in love and gratitude to God. The story in Luke 7 illustrates this. In this story, a sinful woman gate crashes a dinner party that Jesus is attending. She goes to his feet, washes them with her tears (that's a lot of weeping), wipes them with her hair, then anoints them with perfume. The host of the party is offended that Jesus let her touch him to start with, much less all the weeping and wiping and anointing. And naturally Jesus picks up on this discomfort and tells a parable.
40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii,[k] and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus[l] said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

God has forgiven all my sins. I don't know how great my debt was, but I know it was pretty formidable. And the more I can see the size of my debt, the more I love God. And that is why I review and confess my sins. Because every single confession increases my love for my Creator. We don't confess because we need to grovel. We don't confess because otherwise God wouldn't know what we did or thought. We don't confess to satisfy someone else. We confess because it is a spiritual discipline that brings us greater intimacy with God.

So, why would we talk about other people's sins? That's a great question. It doesn't bring us closer to God. It doesn't bring joy or peace into other people's lives. I don't see "calling out a fellow Christian" listed as a fruit of the Spirit.  We are tasked with monitoring our own sins, in order to grow in intimacy with God. We are not tasked with pointing out the sins of others.

That's my sin talk. I reckon not all my readers liked it. I don't intend to give offense. I do hope to offer food for thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment