Wednesday, August 15, 2007

sin is simple, right?

Sorry I haven't blogged in a few days. Jesus has had me in the grips of 2 big concepts and I have been working through them with prayer and scripture. 1 is the idea of integrity and integration...more on that later...probably Sunday as well. The other is sin...that's easy right?

Sin is simple...or not

1. Thou shalt not kill...unless they live in Jericho, commit adultery, or are rebellious children [see levitical law]. So even early on a law had a few disclaimers.

2. My son and I shared 2 pieces of bubblegum in the car, I took the wrappers and folded them up in my hands, then when I thought he wasn't looking threw them out the window and he said "that was sin dad." I didn't ask him for a text, because I knew he was right. But exactly how did he know it? Did he know littering was a sin because the gov't law says it is, or did he know that his dad was being sneaky...and just smelled it out, or that Adam was supposed to take care of the garden of Eden and I was screwing it up. I don't know. But something in his spirit or conscience nailed it.

3. How about this. Is drinking alcohol wrong? That is certainly what the schools are telling my kids...they call it a drug...and say it's bad. So there we were at an episcopalian church taking communion and he asks "why is the juice on fire...what wrong with it?" Um son, it's wine. Isn't that made with alcohol...yes it is. Should we be drinking it. Uh...oh. OK here goes. Jesus turned the water into wine, so it must be OK to drink it, the church has had communion with wine for over 2000 years, Paul tells Timothy to drink a little wine for his upset stomach, and Jesus says it isn't what goes into a man that causes you to sin it is what's in your heart, and finally Paul says in Collosians "let no man judge you for what you eat or drink. Then it's OK? Welllllllll Timothy and Titus have lists of deacons and elders and they are supposed to be people who drink very responsibly, and Paul says various times not to get drunk. OK dad...what's the it right or wrong. Here goes: It is right when Jesus tells you it is OK in your spirit, or at communion, and in is not right if you are or were an alcoholic, or in their presence as a person who may stumble, and not if you are under 18 because we are to obey authorities, and we are never to get drunk but be filled with the spirit. It's like botox...a little can be great, and healthy and good for you [just like chemotherapy] but too much is poison and dangerous.


why can't there just be a list.

Like the pharisees had. Or Bob Jones had. Or how about this from the rule of the apostles in the early 3rd couldn't be a member of the church if you were a juggler. Yep, forget tattoos being and issue.

and Jesus is very testy about this sort of thing. In fact he told the listmakers that they were wrong and din't know God.

and the Baptists were so sure they were right when they protested Disney. How angry do you think Jesus was that day!!!

wait it, gets worse. Some of David's psalms could be sin. What?! Ya, David asked God to kill his enemies and in general smear their guts everywhere...but Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who spitefully use and abuse you. Jesus New Testament ethics supersede the old testament law. In fact Paul says "all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." In so doing he was pushing things even farther.

it looks like this:

1. Old Testament Law...basic laws for a bare minimum society...replaced by
2. Jesus ethics...your motivations and heart attitude are way more important than just the actions. He is looking at the root and not just the fruit.
3. Paul comes along and says "everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." Be careful with this, he also gives commands in some places and he isn't trying to say do whatever you want...he is saying look at the benefits of doing things and figure out the risks and rewards.

Oh, but it's simple isn't it?

if it were we would still be under the law and lost in our sins. And we would have to obey all those old regulations...not just the top 10 all of them. No more ham sandwiches, no more lobster tails, and yes all the women need to leave the city limits when IT happens because they are unclean, and...

No it isn't simple...why?

Because we want lists and black and white understandings to keep our standing with God and ourselves and our own perception of holiness and righteousness tidy. And to be honest we want to condemn others and have our witch hunts. And, we want to know how to raise our kids in a complex and nasty society that is addicted to sin.

and yet

God wants something far deeper for us. He wants us to know his word and let it examine us and tell us things; he wants us to pray and ask what to do; he wants us to look out and see the effect it will have on others; in short he wants us fully integrated with his word and spirit.

and then...sin will be different for different people.

"If a man knows the good he should do and doesn't do is SIN" And that my friends is different for every person every minute of every day.

Some sin is easy. We are supposed to love our enemies, and no amount of whining will ever get us out of that one. Some is a little complex like alcohol.

and here is my favorite. Guess at and assigning sin to others.

There is plenty about not judging in the Bible, most of us know to not do that.
It gets a little more complex when you confront someone about gluttony only to find out they have a thyroid problem.
And it gets even more fun when 1 person thinks something is sin, that the other person doesn't. [Which is usually when you call the church elders in for a meeting and have a good dialogue and prayer]

But the really best way to handle sin is this.

  • Ask God for help
  • Know scripture
  • Walk in the power of the Spirit
  • Spend 99% of your time working on your own sin
  • If you see sin in others pray for them to be liberated
  • Avoid judge anothers sin most of the time, being condemning is not something we are in short supply of in the church
  • Confront as needed, and love while they are in process

Let's imagine my son drinks a beer behind the garage one day at age 15. I see him and confront him. He says he is taking a person communion. I decide this isn't funny and yell at him-place him in foster care-or send him off to be a silk-weaver slave in Indonesia.

and you say...that's crazy. Is it. Why do people get squeezing the toothpaste in the middle. Read about the crusades, the inquisition, or the counter-reformation. The body of Christ has a huge history of defining holiness on non-biblical data and rejecting and destroying people.

Thank God our father doesn't act that way. Our father loves us enough to confront, but his son promises to "never leave or forsake us" for being screw-ups. Then in the upper room he demands. "A NEW COMMAND I GIVE YOU, THAT YOU MUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER EVEN AS I HAVE LOVED YOU."

Now then. When a church offers that sort of love, compassion, and grace to one another the world will take notice. Because it is a reflection of the love they have longed for all their lives. But as long as we "tear and devour one another [read the epistles]" we will still be short of what God intended and Jesus commanded. In short we will still sin.

Me. I'm a screw up. I have worked on so many things and have so many things to work on that I rarely have the time to look at other peoples lives and try to figure out where to jack them up. But when I do it is scriptural truth, in love, in a covenant of reconciliation, forgiveness, and commitment. Because of all the things I am called to model, the one I can't get wrong is love.

So yes there is sin, it is nasty and everywhere. It is the cancer of human reality, ceaselessly gnawing away at everything. And yes, figuring out when it is sin is sometimes simple and sometimes hard. But yes!!!! Their is a rescuer from sin....Jesus! And yes!!!! There is a helper who will lead us and his name is the spirit. And Yes!!!!! I have a church full of maturing brothers and sisters who will love me enough to talk to me and never give up on me...even when we agree to disagree about some things that scripture is silent or grey on.

and the rest?

a benediction: Forgiveness, love, hope, compassion, mercy, patience, reconciliation, forbearance, charity...these are what I give to you as best I can. Anything else is sin, and candidly that stuff "sucks."

one final story. I used to walk certain televangelists just to mock them and yell at the TV screen and quote scripture back at them that they were ignoring. It was a weird fight-club, rant, judgment hobby of mine. Then one day I was sitting in the car listening to "christian radio" and they spent about 1/2 an hour mocking Dennis Rodman, and I was just furious. I pulled over I was so mad. People were driving by and looking at me because I was screaming at the radio. I screamed "You idiots, what's wrong with you? He doesn't know Christ, leave him alone. Or love about spending a 1/2 hour of radio time praying for him. Get money in to buy him something as a gift of love...but please...PLEASE...SHUT UP! and the God said...quiet as a whisper. "Hey buddy, you do this to the TV all the time."

That really helped me...a lot. Because I am a sin-addict, in recovery with a group of people who are the same. And on any given night or day, one of us will fall off the wagon.

will we be there to help them back up unto the wagon?

will we leave them there and move on?

or will we run over them a few times, because thier failures are embarrassing?

When you screw up...I'll be ther to help pick you back up. Do the same for me, will ya? That's what Jesus did.


chad said...

the community of Christ. . .I'm desperate for it!!

Anonymous said...

Have you read Repenting of Religion by Greg Boyd...amazing thoughts! Original sin being that of Judgement and how all sin seems to stem from our need to judge between good and evil!


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