Sin is an uncomfortable word. So uncomfortable it has practically been abandoned from both conversation and lexicon by the “non-religious” and only spoken in whispers by people of faith. Try using the word in mixed company with one eye on people’s eyebrows and Adams apples. We know we aren’t perfect, but most folks certainly would prefer not to be branded as a sinner.
Webster defines “sin” as a transgression of divine law, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religion or moral principle. Some say a sinner is anyone who knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses to do wrong by whatever “code” they live by. But in our culture of relativism, it’s not always easy to agree on what’s “good” and what’s “bad” (might I say evil?), let alone believe in a God of perfection and purity who has established standards and principles designed to guide us in an honorable and pleasing life.
Mistake is a more comfortable word. But can we with any integrity use the term mistake to describe all our less than perfect decisions and actions? After all, aren’t mistakes accidental? But sometimes we make “mistakes” on purpose, don’t we? If we continue to make the same “mistake,” what then?
Christians are often branded as “moralists” (one unduly concerned with regulating the morals of others) for having a prescribed moral compass or code of conduct as found in the Bible. If anyone, Christians should be the first to recognize their own sin problem (Rom. 3:23) and need for a remedy (Rom. 6:23). Understanding this, we should approach our culture with a deep sense of humility and compassion rather than any mistaken sense of superiority or “residents of the higher ground.”
Perhaps we should adopt Jesus’ response to those branded as sinners, whether they are non-religious or people of faith such as professing Christians. Jesus, knowing that sin separates everyone from God, was interested in communicating God’s willingness to reconnect us with Him and His words and life offered restoration, not condemnation. Jesus was aware that the best of the “good” people were included in the sinner’s camp. He raised the standard to insure people were aware there were no exclusions. (Matt.5:43-48)
Here’s the point. Thanks for waiting. Jesus was more about the business of promoting reconciliation than he was condemning sinners. No, he wasn’t soft on sin, but he knew sin was part of the human spiritual DNA (thank you, Adam). Even on our best days, we as Christ followers have no stones to throw. (Jn. 8:7) We still need help. We all need help. God offers this help compassionately through our acknowledgement of missing his standard, his offering of forgiveness, and exchanging our corrupted heart for one that’s better and more inclined to allow his redemptive work. As distasteful as the word “sin” may be, we get it.
As ambassadors for God (2 Cor. 5:18), let’s endeavor to communicate the same message in the same manner as Jesus. We all struggle with problems called rebellion and independence. Our problems are larger than “mistakes.” We resist the notion of God or that there is a God who loves us and desires to show us favor. We have a hard time admitting the need for and receiving help from God.
Surely the effects of sin are worse than the word itself. Like death and taxes, sin impacts all our lives so we need not be afraid to use the word. We just don’t use it as a sledgehammer or pretend we are exempt from it. Perhaps a more interesting question is where one gets their “standards” and why they miss the mark. We are born with a compromised ability to choose “rightly” no matter the standard. Through Christ, our “chooser,” our will, is liberated and re-calibrated. Think About It.