What does the word ‘sin’ mean to you?
Many have blamed Christians – justifiably – for using the word to judge and condemn and accuse others over the centuries. I hate hearing about the harshness and volatility of so many within the faith I follow.
I think the problem many people have with Christianity itself is the hypocrisy of its followers. Those that judge others the strongest are in many cases the ones harbouring the darkest secrets.
It’s not right.
We all sin, in thought and deed. And I think, deep down, most of us know this. None of us is exempt from the tendency to make mistakes.
We are mostly aware of our brokenness, our shame, our guilt. No one is perfect – not even close. We wound the ones closest to us. We lash out at people who don’t deserve it. We avoid our responsibilities. We dodge our taxes. We fail to give to the poor while we indulge ourselves ‘because we deserve it’.
But this is nothing new. We know this, right? And conviction continues to come and go, like the weather…
I think the problem many of us find is that there are so many different levels of wrong. How is the murderer just the same as the liar? Yes it’s all sin, but the consequences of our actions and omissions vary greatly. It’s all too hard to quantify, so we end up slamming the worst of sinners and justifying the least.
So what’s the solution? Do we beat ourselves up over every little thing we do wrong?
And how do we ever move past the immense grievances others have committed against us?
The problem, I find, is not necessarily in my ability to reflect on my brokenness and sin, or even to assess what needs to change – although that’s important. I know when I’ve done wrong, usually. The problem is when I let my sin stop me from drawing close to the one who can help fix the problem. The one who can offer forgiveness, insight and healing.
And when I come face to face with my Lord and God, he often shows me what my brokenness has led to.
But we can’t stay in sorrow forever – though it might well take years to heal some of the deeper hurts and regrets.
I know I’m slowly changing and growing as his love does its work on me. His love is refining me and his light shines through the cracks of my sin and shame. His forgiveness is more than enough for all that I’ve done and said, even though the guilt will often tell me otherwise.
I have to remember the power of grace. Pure, unmerited, given by Jesus Christ – the one whose blood, shed on the cross, covers all my sin…
The God-man who rose again to offer new life. Not incessant guilt and shame.
And the hardest thing to accept is that this grace is free to all who would ask for it.
I follow a belief system which acknowledges that we are all flawed and broken in some way but there is hope for healing, cleansing, and redemption.
Jesus has the awesome ability to set us free from our shackles.
He can redeem that which has been taken. He can make things right again.
The consequences of others’ sin can last a lifetime. It is evidenced by tears and grief and trauma.
But we have one greater than sin. One who conquered sin by his death and resurrection. Who walks beside us on the crooked pathways and will one day bring us home.
Sin will continue this side of heaven.
But the other side is a different story.
“Energize the limp hands,
strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls,
“Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here,
on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.
He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”
(Isaiah 35:3-4 MSG paraphrase)