Friday, April 17, 2015

The Sins of Un-

We often think of sin as "the bad things we do" or even the "the bad things we think."  More rarely someone understands that even the bad things we feel, for example hatred or covetousness are wrong and should have been submitted to Christ.   This is a "positive" view of sin.  In other words, this way of thinking understands sin as "The things we do, think, or feel that we should not."

However, this does not account for at least half of the Bible's definition.  God's perspective on sin includes "The good we fail to do". For example, James' famous line, "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). This is one of those lines that in is apt to be read radically.  I can't save the world, feed all the hungry, house all the homeless, or take in all the orphans.  I know those things are right and I can't do them, so God is literally asking the impossible right?

Jesus didn't solve all the world's problems every day. After 3 years of work, the entire system of Roman oppression was still in place; injustice and immorality of every kind reigned.  If the measure of doing the right thing was instantly righting the world's wrongs, Jesus was a failure. 

Instead, on any given day Jesus not only avoided all those ugly actions, thoughts and feelings that plague us, but he also personified the positive things. For each person he came in contact with he was full of mercy, full of love, full of holiness.  In him the fullness of God dwelt bodily (Colossians 2:9). 

We on the other hand find ourselves in the category of "Un." We are ungrateful, unholy and unloving which 2 Timothy 3 lists with other sins such as malicious gossip.  We are without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving and unmerciful which Paul describes in Romans 1 as being among the results of not acknowledging God.   Simply put Jesus has in abundance what on our best day we have in meager measure.

How meager? Let's take me and Facebook for an example.  It's a great platform to promote a blog, a wonderfully non-invasive way to keep up with friends from around the world, and a great way to share a joke.  Yet, it's also the world's most efficient way to whine. I'd like to be above this fray, but if you scroll back on my feed, I feel sure you'd find more than one bellyaching session about things that irritate me (including electronics, Mondays, the weather, and not being able to find certain yummy kinds of tofu in my local grocery). I can be a whiner and a grump. 

Does that sound like positive sin?  Whining and complaining are sins themselves, but it's not just that I should refrain from grumbling, especially in such a discouraging and public format (although that is certainly true). It's that I have a deep poverty of gratitude. When I chose to complain instead of be thankful, I am declaring to the world that I am not grateful for God's good gifts. 

When I have to exert myself to show even a modicum of caring to strangers, when I have to force myself to find 5 minutes to read my Bible, when I sigh about teaching another semester of Bible class, I am revealing that I am among the people Paul was talking about. 
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,  unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
Or in Paul's more exact words while I may have an appearance of godliness, I am lacking its power.  What power you may ask?  The power of transformation.  I have not yet fully embraced the heart of flesh that God promised me.
I will give you a new heart andHeart of stone Israel put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).
The heart of flesh that God promised me is a heart like Christ, one that overflows everyday with all the wonders of gratitude, holiness and love. Not the poverty stricken heart of stone I am sometimes plagued with.  I don't need to stop doing what's right just because my heart is not yet in tune with the will of God.  That's what obedience is all about: trustingly doing what he calls me to, even if I don't "feel" it.  But I do need to recognize that when I am ungrateful, unloving and unholy (even if no one sees) I am in need of humble repentance and a transformed heart.


No comments:

Post a Comment