Confronting the reality of my sin: Good, bad or a new discipline?
With Easter fast approaching I have been pondering again the importance of the Cross. One thing I am not hearing much talk about in this context is sin. I know it’s a word we rarely use and feel uncomfortable about. It feels as if we can talk about evil: when something in the world that happens is particularly abhorrent, like a mass school shooting or relentless bombing in Syria. Or I am willing to talk about being broken: we live in a broken world and our own brokenness often means we behave in ways contrary to what God wants. But for some reason, sin is more difficult.
I think some of this dilemma is that as people involved in Church, we are perceived as judgmental, and sin feels inherently condemnatory. Therefore to use it would reinforce that perception. The other reason might be that we have become aware that sin is not specifically the wrong things we do, so much as our basic and fundamental orientation away from God, which is then expressed in our actions.
But, (and I guess here is my question, my invitation for you to engage in further reflection and discussion with others you are close to) if we don’t talk about sin, if we are unaware of our sinfulness, if we don’t consider how far from God we are… How can we ever know the forgiveness and reconciliation He offers?
It seems to me that at least one aspect of the cross and the Easter events, if not its most central point, is that it makes it painfully clear how bad our sinfulness is: That the Son of God, God in human flesh, should suffer and die, experiencing the full force of the wrath of God because He was bearing the sin of the world… And this was necessary because I am a sinner! Wow! I am not sure I want to face that reality! It is rather weighty! However – unless we do – then what the Cross accomplished is minimalised, trivialised, of almost no significance!
And this is where it is good to take this time of year to gaze intently on the cross. For, amongst other things, it demonstrates clearly how great is our sin – but how much more wonderful is God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness. So for me Easter, even the sombre reality of the events on Good Friday, are worth taking the time to sit with. Why? Because they help me grasp, firstly, the depth of my depravity and then, wonderfully, the breadth of God’s loving intervention that reconciles me to Himself and calls me to become His child.
Jesus made this point clear a number of times in the things He said and the parables He told. One such incident occurred when a ‘sinful’ woman washed His feet with her tears, dried them with her hair and anointed them with expensive ointment. In response to the protestations of the righteous host Jesus replied: Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47 ESV
I am convinced as we think about this further – including how bad I am – we will in fact discover this is great news. Because we will discover that God’s grace is bigger, much, much bigger than my sin!