Mind your language!
I've been struggling with sin lately … there, bet you think I'm going
to write about swearing or blasphemy! But it's “sin” the
word with which I wrestle, along with other jargon that doesn't help me
communicate with those who don't speak church lingo.
Worse, many think they understand but have the wrong dictionary, an
unwritten one handed down through hearsay and tradition. So “sin” as
in “living in sin” - equating sin with sex and remembering an age gone
by, and in which Christians are still thought to live. Or “sinful” as
in “naughty but nice” - used in an ad for cream cakes: you know you
shouldn't really but why not.
I've been experimenting with “mess” instead. How's this?
Bad news: the human condition is messed up. (Nobody needs
telling that, it's transparently obvious.) What chance do we have
of anything better? If ‘heaven’ (the eternal realm) is not to
be messed up by us, we can't go as we are. A messed up heaven is
not heaven! So as we are, we have no hope of anything better,
because if there was, and we joined, it wouldn't be better any more.
Good news (“gospel”!): God came from the eternal realm to visit
us, in the person of the Son, Jesus. He's showed us that something
better, unmessy, exists and is possible. Jesus told us how to
live, showed us how to live, in some mysterious way through his
crucifixion makes it possible for us to live less messily, and promises
the Holy Spirit's help to anyone who wants to live like that. All
we have to say is “yes” (we can't hang on to all the messed-up-ness
and ask God to help us get rid of it at the same time!).
Jesus told us that he loves us, that the Father loves us, and that
the Spirit will come to love us and enable us to love others.
Jesus showed us, too, that love transforms messy individuals and mess in
the world - God's world, which he wants to clean up for our sake as much
as his own. We can have a first instalment of unmessy life now,
here on Earth. This is ham where you am, not pie in the sky when you
What brought this on? Thinking that Christian believers have to get
better and better at articulating aspects of their faith such as the
uniqueness of Jesus, the purpose of life and the problems of evil and
suffering. Thinking that this must be done so that people in the
street can understand - their questions, their language, not ours - while
remaining orthodox in our beliefs. Thinking that we have to live the
gospel, not just talk it, and that that means working to reduce mess
wherever we are. And because last Saturday was the Jewish ‘Sabbath
of repentance’ and next is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Yours in Christ
PS Got any Jewish friends at work? In the community? Why not open up a
conversation about sin and repentance and what it means to them?
... Christian believers have to get better
and better at articulating aspects of their faith such as the
uniqueness of Jesus, the purpose of life and the problems of evil
and suffering. ... so that people in the street can
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