Sin used to terrify me.
Sin, that thing that paves the path to hell, that thing that stains our soul and leads us to the depths of despair through grief, guilt, and shame. Its everywhere and, seemingly, in everything. The Ten Commandments, the guide of the what not to do in life, contain as its first proclamation a sin that appears unachievable – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body.
How can we live like this? Well, according to Christian theology, life is only possible through Jesus Christ. He died so we might live. He died “that he might shatter the chains the evil and death, and banish the darkness of sin and despair.”(Book of Alternative Services, p196)
Yet sin still has power. It has power when we judge others, or use the sin of their lives as some sort of litmus test of their character or their worth. It has power when we look in the mirror and we judge ourselves as dirty, useless, or hopeless when we recognize the face staring back as one who has fallen down yet again. Humanity is the source of sin’s power in the world. Us. You and I. We give sin power, but the the real truth is Sin is powerless where God is concerned; the path forward has been cleared through Jesus Christ. This seems to be one of those impossibly complex aspects of the Christian faith that Christians have the devil of a time grasping.
Sin has no power. Get it through your head. Jesus’ death and resurrection obliterated sin and death. They are gone. They are no more. They have ceased to existed. I really want to channel John Cleese… It is nothing any follower of Christ needs to be afraid of anymore and, if we can fully believe that, we are now free to talk about it and perhaps even flip sin to be something else entirely.
I once heard sin described as our disobedience to God’s will. Heavy term and very accurate. But if God’s deepest wish is for us to walk with him in perfect relationship, then we could articulate sin as not only a matter of our obedience, but of connection to God; sin is anything that gets between us and God. Anything.
This opens up an entire world of possibilities to what is sinful. Shoot anything and everything is sinful in this context if it is solely about connection to God. Work, video games, junk food, reading trash novels, I’m just looking around my desk at this point, but you can see where I am going. If all these things can be sinful, and more, again, how can we possibly live this way? Well, remember that we don’t have to fear sin anymore, and if I am not afraid of sin, if I am not ashamed or crippled by the guilt of sin, my sin is no longer about who I am, but rather where I am. Sin can now be seen as type of road marker for me. The sin of my life, the things that dampen my connection to God, that take me out of my moments with the Devine, they aren’t sources of pain, but rather indicators of the parts of my life where, if I choose to work on them, will lead me to deeper and stronger connections to my Creator. They are no longer indicators of worth, but opportunities for growth.
Yes, a person could take this and easily find themselves running with theologies like that of the Libertines, those “anything goes cause God forgives all sin” mentalities, but a key component to what I’m offering is our desire to be in constant and direct communion with the source of our life, the One who knows who we truly are, and the One gives us our reason to be.
God’s intention for us is to be with Him, not only after we pass on from this life, but right now in this moment. No matter where we are or what we are doing – God’s desire is that we are with Him. I believe that with all my heart and it is the focal point of my theological stance. Yet, one of the biggest threats to that connection is the power that we have given back to what we consider sin. This power we provide to sin runs people down and makes them feel unlovable, unworthy, inadequate, hopeless. This power we provide to sin weakens our connection to God and takes us out of the moments with Him we should be cherishing.
Do you want that connection to God and the peace, the love, the fulfillment that comes from His grace? Then quit buying into the idea that sin has power in your life and when you fall down (and if you’re honest, you know you will fall down), see those moments as gifts through which you can free yourself to grow even closer to the One who truly loves you.