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Posts Tagged ‘Is sin real?’

Bullies 8.16Sinner.

Bully.

Amazing human.

These words jumped out at me as I captured this graphic from an atheist Internet community.

“You are an amazing human” YES! Everyone who is, was and will be is absolutely amazing. Absolutely unique. And as a Christian, I can confidently add this: absolutely cherished by the creator and master of time, space and the universe.

To make the point as strong as possible, what I just wrote applies to me, to you, to Donald Trump, to Jean Vanier (the extraordinary founder of the international L’Arche homes for several disabled people), to the most sickening ISIS terrorist and the most committed community volunteer.

There are NO exceptions. How can I know this? As a Christian, I refer to a section of the Bible simply called ‘Romans’: “there is no difference between Jews and [non-Jews]; God is the same Lord of all and richly blesses all who call to him”.

“You are not a sinner”. OK, then besides being an amazing human being, what are you? Or to really make you think, what is an ISIS terrorist? I imagine you (like me) have no trouble calling an ISIS member a sinner. What about Jean Vanier…has he ever done anything wrong (or failed to do something right)? I’ve heard Jean on detailed TV interviews; he would have no trouble calling himself a sinner.

So if someone as “saintly” as Jean Vanier knows he’s a sinner, what does that make me? Or you? Or ANYONE of ANY age? I’m referring to the little girl in the graphic; can anyone honestly show me a six or seven year-old who hasn’t uncaringly whacked their sibling or ripped a toy out of their hands? Really?

“Bully” is an inflammatory word in North American culture, with school boards, teachers and parents on the lookout to stop this nauseating, soul-destroying behaviour. But does the word apply to people who are telling you and I the TRUTH about our condition?

Sure, they might be telling you in a judgmental, patronizing way (in other words, a sinful way), but that doesn’t change the truth of our condition. Acknowledging and acting on this condition is important because God knows us better than we know ourselves and so that’s inevitably how He sees us.

In fact,  that ‘Romans’ section of the Bible puts it like this: “All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness.”

So if you’re still with me, are you willing to admit you are (1) an amazing human being and (2) a sinner who doesn’t need anyone (least of all an obnoxious bully) to convince you of these two things?

If you’ve said yes, then consider that your creator doesn’t want you to live and die in your sinful condition. He wants to come into your life and make you more like the person He knows you can be. And he wants to do that through His Son, Jesus Christ.

When you accept Jesus into your life — and understand that He died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do — then you welcome God into your life. And when this life ends, you’ll spend all of eternity in the glorious presence of Jesus.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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SinIt’s easy to make this call about a word that’s so loaded, isn’t it? In our culture “sin” has come to be associated of judgementalism, arrogance, hard-heartedness and “religious” people.

Some of those people, who lack full awareness of their own failures, think they’re doing others a favour when they call them out for the wrong things those people might have done.

But does that mean the word “sin” should be tossed in garbage? The person who created the graphic that inspired this essay might shout YES.

I suppose it’s easier to think everything is relative and there is no real “good” or “bad” that would necessitate a word like “sin”. Do you really think that’s so? Isn’t murder a sin? What about setting someone’s house on fire — can you think of a reason that would condone arson? Is there an excuse to justify printing and distributing counterfeit money?

Just like you, I haven’t done any of these things. But I examine my own life and see plenty of behaviours that qualify as sin:

  • I’m tired of putting up with the slow truck ahead of me, so I dangerously cut off another car in the passing lane to get around it.
  • I find pathetic excuses to stay on the computer when I should be turning it off and helping my wife clean the house.
  • I allow ancient, petty squabbles with my relatives to bubble up and stop me from reaching out to them.

Maybe these aren’t “sins” to you. Our culture might come up with softer descriptions like “shortcomings” or “mistakes”. To me, a shortcoming is not being able to resist sugary snacks (I’m absolutely guilty). A mistake is failing to notice a typo in a Frank’s Cottage essay (often guilty). A sin is different and I hope the bullet-point examples above make that clear.

So what can I do about these sins and many others? Lord knows, I’ve tried and tried to change my ways. I’ll bet you’ve tried to fix your sins, too. And I’ll bet you’ve had as much success as me. Kinda sad, eh?

But there IS something real and substantial and meaningful that we can do. I’ve done it and it IS making a difference. Not as quickly as I (or my wife) would like, but the change is happening.

Prepare yourself for what this is, because it’s radical and controversial: believing there is a creator. A creator who knows YOU. A creator who cares about YOU. A creator who is involved in this world and wants to be involved in YOUR life.

Furthermore, this creator has a son, whom He offers to this world (including YOU) as an extraordinary, life-changing gift. He is Jesus Christ and God wants YOU to accept the gift of Him. When you do that, you come to know that He died on a cross to make up for ALL the sins of EVERYONE who believes in Him and follows Him.

When this life is done and you come before God, He no longer sees your sins. He sees the sacrifice and the perfection of His son. Sound interesting? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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is sin imaginary?At first I was reluctant to interact with this atheist person, who was commenting on a Frank’s Cottage essay (and the graphic to the left), and you’ll realize it in my initial responses. All too often, I’ve been disappointed to find that people who believe there is no God simply want to score points and win debates over people they look down on.

But Jill was different and when I realized it, we ended up having a good conversation. Read on and see if you agree with me:

Jill: I think the topic of sin is interesting. From my perspective, the graphic is meant to show that in order to sell the “cure”, you have to make people believe they are sick, right?

Pharmaceutical companies have figured out the same thing. They want to sell more drugs. What better way to sell more drugs than to convince people through commercials that they might have a whole list of diseases which they pitch all over media. And by reinforcing the sin/sick concept over and over it keeps people flocking back to church or to their doctors for the cure.

I believe there is a big difference between the word ‘sin’ and words like ‘mistake’, ‘error’, etc. They are not interchangeable.

Frank: Thanks, Jill. Guess it’s a matter of perspective.

Jill: Isn’t sin the hook which churches use to keep people returning each week? Christianity is based upon original sin.

Frank: Perhaps that’s the perspective of some non-Christians….

Jill: I really resent watching people being told they are broken. I sometimes wonder if there is any data to link religiosity to depression. There is no perfect standard by which we should be judged.

Frank: Yes, your resentment would be expected in the non-believing world. And for me as a follower of Jesus Christ, there absolutely is a perfect standard by which we should be judged.

Jill: Do you ever feel depressed to be compared to a perfect standard for which you will never meet?

Frank: Nope, I never feel depressed about that. Because Christ is my lord and savior, God sees me as He sees Jesus: perfect, without a single blemish. 🙂

Jill: I’m glad to read that, Frank. It makes me feel a little better. But why sin then? If God sees you as he sees Jesus, why is sin such an important part of Christianity?

Frank: Great questions! Why sin? Because of the gift of freewill. Serious Christians believe God knew this would be the result of giving us freewill, but He did it anyway because He wanted (and wants) a REAL relationship with real people, rather than goose-stepping robots.

Serious Christians believe sin is important because in the end, it’s a rejection of God. It’s telling Him we know better than Him how to live our lives. And thousands of years of history have shown how horribly wrong this is.

In addition, serious Christians believe God is perfect and cannot stand the sin that all human beings commit. But rather than condemn us all, we believe God sent His son as a gift to everyone who wishes to accept the gift. And that gift (a) clears away the sin and (b) strengthens us to see our sin clearly and avoid it more in the future.

Jill: But he’s God, for goodness sake. He could have created perfect beings, couldn’t he? He could have created goose-stepping robots if he wanted to, correct?

Instead, he created humans with flaws, which he already knows about because he’s omniscient. Then he grows frustrated with them and causes great harm to many. Whose fault is that?

Frank: Yes, He could have created perfect beings who were in perfect relationship with Him. And it would be a real as a TV “reality” show.

Serious Christians believe the Biblical viewpoint that humans are made in God’s image. That means the emotions we experience are the emotions He experiences. Pain, frustration, anger, joy, etc. Goose-stepping robots would be as useless to Him as they would be to us.

Jill: How do you know those are the emotions God experiences? How do you tell the difference between real emotions as God experiences them and human emotions which humans project upon God? Couldn’t “in His image” be just a physical descriptor? Or a metaphor for something else?

Frank: I know these are the emotions God experiences because the Bible – which serious Christians trust as absolutely reliable – depicts God with those emotions.

In addition, I guess “in His image” could be a physical descriptor because we all resemble Jesus – human beings with two arms and two legs and a face that expresses every emotion known to humans.

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So, what do you think? Is the idea of ‘sin’ — and the way to escape the prison it creates for every person on this earth — more real to you now? And what about that ‘escape’? Do you want to know more about it? Type your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

 

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Sin 10.13“Sin” is not a word we use much anymore.
And it’s easy to understand why: embarrassing televangelists have turned it into a ridiculously pronounced cliche (can’t you just hear them pontificating about ‘see-in’?). Furthermore, in North America, the media and entertainment industries have mercilessly lampooned the word and anyone who dares to even whisper it.

So, call it what you want. Mistakes. Errors. Missing the mark. Falling short. Dropping the ball. Blowing it. I’m sure I could find more names for sin, but you get it.

Responding to the charge in this online ‘graphic’ (conveniently posted for me on an Atheism Internet community), I looked up the word. Here’s what I found:

Transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
Any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
Any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It’s a sin to waste time.

After reading these definitions, all I can do is think about the world we live in, then scratch my head in puzzlement. Epic greed (which directly caused the 2008-2011 recession), sickening entitlement (think about the salaries most professional athletes demand because they think they’re worth it) and lust for power (which have brought us the likes of Adolf Hitler) are just a few of what Dictionary.com calls “a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principal”. You can probably suggest other examples.

So how is any of what I’ve described ‘imaginary’? The people who are still unemployed because of the recession, the people who receive piddling salaries for doing important work (social workers come to mind) and the victims of someone’s lust for power (just consider the victims of Cambodia’s horrific Pol Pot regime) would surely tell you sin is as real as cancer, reality TV and government deficits.

And the ‘imaginary cure’? I have no trouble telling you there are many parts of the Christian Bible that I don’t fully comprehend. But that’s not what sticks with me. Instead, I think of the parts that are crystal clear:

  • Love your enemies;
  • Treat others as you would like to be treated;
  • Deal with your shortcomings before pointing out the failures of others;
  • Don’t be a hypocrite;
  • Forgive and you will be forgiven;
  • Put the needs of others ahead of your needs.

Am I crazy to write that these commandments, mostly given by Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is the son of God) will go a long way to solving the sins of humanity? I don’t think so.

That’s why I became a follower of Jesus. That’s why I treat the Bible seriously, even the parts that puzzle me. Jesus knows better than I do what’s wrong with this world and how it can be made right. I want to be part of that process. Do you? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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