Saturday, July 30, 2011

Is sin a dirty word?

I have to admit that I don't like to talk about sin.  It feels like that's connected to the idea of judgment--so if I talk about sin then I also have to identify sin in your life and then we have to have that conversation.

But I also have to admit that I have been thinking an awful lot lately about the consequences of sin.  Because I have to live with them.  And right now those consequences are so clear that they're unavoidable.

I'm talking about my dad's death, of course--death being the ultimate consequence of sin.  Reading the stories of God, death is actually a gift from God.  Can you imagine what life would be like if God had allowed a sinful people to eat from the tree of life and live eternally with sin ruling over us?  That's not any kind of life, and it's not the kind of life I would hope to have.  But still, there is something inherently wrong with death, something inherently not-good about it.

But it's more than that.  I see how it separates me from other people too.  I see how my own shame at my sin creates a desire to avoid intimacy--to avoid being known.  I see how I sometimes deal with that by living out of an image of myself rather than out of my actual self.  I see how my sinful acts hurt other people--when I speak out in anger or when I choose selfishness over giving to others.  I see how different belief systems and worldviews and approaches to life make it almost impossible to walk beside people in life--even people that I actually like and want to spent time with.

So I can't deny that sin is real, that its consequences are real, and that ultimately it hurts both me and others in the way I would most wish to avoid.  Sometimes I call this idea brokenness, but I could just as easily label it sin.

When talking about faith, I actually don't think that the topic of sin is such a bad place to start.  I don't know a single person who hasn't experienced some of the consequences of sin.  I don't know anyone who doesn't wish or hope for something better in the future.

And what my faith tells me, what I've learned and seen within my relationship with God, is that there is hope.  Jesus conquered death by raising himself and others from the dead, showing that he also has the power to forgive sins and heal brokenness.  And the most amazing thing is that we don't have to wait until death to see at least some of the results of that healing.  Jesus wants to begin the process of restoration and healing right now.  He longs to, through the Holy Spirit, show us how to live above that brokenness.  Though he's not going to bring my dad back, and I have to wait for eternity to experience the restoration of that relationship, I can learn not to allow my shame to separate me from others.  I can submit my heart and my choices to the leading of the Spirit, and through him, I can choose to say no to sin and avoid hurting other people.  I can begin to live a life of reconciliation and restoration.

And that gives me hope, at least enough to walk into another day.

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