Some Christians seem totally obsessed with it. Some never talk about it. Why? What is it about sin that makes Christians talk about it all the damned time?
We have to deal with it because it is a huge part of the faith.
The problem is that we often are dealing with the baggage and the assumptions around it rather than the thing itself.Sin is a big deal because it is all about relationship. Click To Tweet
There are two important ways to see sin.
Both are really good (it’s where we take them that screws us up).
1) Sin as separation from GOD.
In the most basic sense, sin isn’t drinking, dancing, cussing, or anything like that. It is the space, the separation, the abandonment of relationship with GOD.
This is essential to understand because the Hebrew Scriptures are pretty much all about this recurring concept. From Genesis to the prophets we read about how, for two thousand years, the people would abandon GOD, run away from GOD, cheat on GOD with other gods. And yet, GOD wouldn’t abandon them (though they might have to sit in a time out for awhile).
The question isn’t what GOD does in response, but what the people continually do violate the relationship.
2) Sin as wound to relationship.
This is where those actions we like to call sins come from. Think about the 10 Commandments. They aren’t just a list of random things to do and not do. They are all about relationship with GOD and with other people. These are things which deal directly with how we, at the root of it all, love or hurt people.
Sin is a big deal because it is all about relationship.
What makes something a sin is not that it is just “wrong” in an objective sense. It isn’t something on a list of things to avoid because we’re supposed to avoid the things on a list. As if its presence on the list is the justification for its being on the list.
Sin is when we hurt GOD or hurt each other.
And we make a big deal out of sin because relationship is the foundation of our faith.
A faith built on the health of our relationship to GOD and to our neighbors. A relationship inspired by hope and love to build the kindom: GOD’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
Sin isn’t a spineless, hollow act of indifference, it is a transgression and breaking of relationship. And that relationship is the foundational piece of our faith.
It is horrendous that we get this so wrong.
Here’s my favorite example.
Think of it this way:
Killing a person is a transgression. Every time. Always. It is a transgression toward one’s neighbor through an act of violence, making it a transgression against the body of Christ. It is also a transgression toward GOD as breaking a commandment and violating GOD’s creation. Killing is always sin.
Now that doesn’t mean you’ll be condemned for eternity for it, regardless of what you do.
It doesn’t mean one didn’t have the best of intentions.
Or that there aren’t contributing factors.
It means killing is a sin therefore one needs to repent.
But here’s the kicker. If we believe in a gracious and loving and merciful GOD, then when we confess, we are forgiven.
We don’t only take sin seriously, we also take confession and forgiveness seriously.
The trouble with the way we talk about sin is we want it to be an action, and having done it, we want it to be permanent, like a scarlet A.
Permanent condemnation is the antithesis of our theology.
So also is justification of sin. We often want to make certain killing OK. Self defense. War. Protecting others. But none is OK. All are a transgression.
But that’s why we confess. That’s why we seek forgiveness.
If I were a doctor or a police officer or a soldier or worked in the Defense Department, I would have a regular appointment for confession. That’s the only way I’d be able to deal with the stuff which comes with it. In my heart and soul and mind. And with my faith.
We can’t talk about sin without talking about confession and repentance.
It makes a mockery of our faith. And worse, it ruins relationships and destroys lives.
And that sounds an awful lot like sin.