Friday, October 25, 2013

Communicating Sin

One of the hardest parts of Christianity for modern people to grasp is the notion of sin. We think we are pretty good. We have been trained not to feel guilty for anything. Self esteem is important and if you just believe in yourself you can accomplish a lot. It is true to a point. The trouble is that then people just don't understand why we need a savior. Why Jesus would die on the cross. Why God would have the concept of hell. Why grace is really amazing.

I wonder if the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15 makes sense here. It is often seen as the picture of grace but it gives us a picture of sin as well. I am thinking of the two kinds of sin exhibited by the two sons. The sin of rebellion which we can see plainly. Of course, the rebellious son could not see it until he came to his senses but it is kind of obvious.

Then there is the other son. He is the good kid. Yet he says he served his father like a slave. He resents his father for not rewarding his good behavior and being too forgiving to his brother. He is the one who does not see himself as a sinner. He has done good but not on the same level as the father.

It is that kind of guy that can have a problem grasping sin. He has never been bad enough to feel that sin is a big problem. So accepting that radical solution that Christianity offers to sin seems a little much. The smallness of the problem is part of the problem. That is a small vision of life. Play by the rules. Don't question the rules but don't really embrace the rule-maker either. You make peace with God but you don't love God with everything you have.

That peace is based on some sort of micro-rebellion. God keeps drawing us closer and closer. The only way to not end up deeply in love with Him is to push Him away at some point. For the older son that point was being asked to forgive his brother. That was too much. But pushing God away at any point is a problem. In fact, it is the only real problem we have. If we stay with God what seems like a problem ends up being an adventure. We get hurt. We look stupid. No problem. We learn. We heal. We fall deeper in love with God. But if we push God away. If we say this is too much. If we would rather lose God than follow Him down this path. Then we have a problem.

That is the essence of sin. It is not so much the size of the rebellion. Adam and Eve rebelled over a piece of fruit. It is the lack of trust. Saying to God, "My life would be better if I did something other than Your will."

So we can see how every sin will separate us from God. A lack of trust can never really be a small matter. It will make the kind of love relationship God wants to have with us impossible.

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