1.24.2014

The Problem of Sin

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Picking up on yesterday's post, I think the huge fork in the road that the Christian narrative presents is because of the concept of sin.  If there is no such thing as sin, then the big questions in life are relatively easy: since we're all OK, then we're fine choosing whatever we want to believe and however we want to live, so long as we're not doing harm to ourselves or others.  In other words, why can't there be many ways to a fulfilling life now and eternal salvation later, if in fact the plight of our souls isn't that dire?  I can see how such a worldview would be appealing.  But that doesn't necessarily make it true. 

Interestingly, it is sometimes humanity's worst people who seek salvation most earnestly.   If they have committed grievous deeds and have a conscience, they know they are utterly lost and can do nothing to atone for their actions, so they seek salvation from an external source.

For the rest of us respectable people, we greet such searching with admiration.  We hear about someone who was down and out who found religion and we think, "Good for them."  We're glad they're doing what they're doing.  But what they're doing is "for them."  Meaning "not for us."  We don't think of salvation from an external source as being as necessary for us, because we're not like "them," because we're doing alright for ourselves.

Even we Christians, who profess to sin and hell and salvation, don't often feel as lost as we really are.  And you wonder why non-Christians are annoyed at our proselytizing.  Telling others about the way to salvation when we ourselves don't believe deep down that we needed much help to be saved just comes across as haughty and narrow-minded and insensitive.

If you know your Bible, think instead of Isaiah having his encounter with God in Isaiah 6 or Peter having his encounter with Jesus in Luke 5.  These two men were face to face with holiness personified and became utterly unglued in its presence:

Isaiah -“Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

Peter - “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 

Also uniting these two responses is what happens next.  Both are assured, and both are commissioned to tell others.   You can imagine that their stories to others took the reality of sin seriously, not as a theoretical possibility but a very real problem begging desperately for outside help.  

If you don't believe in the problem of sin, then I don't blame you for not taking seriously the claims of Christianity, least of all because of the poor example we Christians have been in our own behavior and in our own reaction to the problem of sin.  But I urge you to reconsider.  If sin is a problem, there is a solution.  Coming to face to face with holiness may yet leave you feeling ruined and lost, but then cleansed and saved.
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