Let’s talk about sin.
We are all separated from God. You know that verse about how we have all fallen short of the glory of God, right?
Well sometimes we don’t act like it is “we,” as much as we act like it is “them.”
The reality of our situation is that there is a separation and division in the relationship we all have with God.
What was once whole and united has now been fractured and broken.
That is what sin is. But don’t run for the doors just yet.
What if I told you that 80 percent of the time the word sin is used in the New Testament, it is used as a noun, and the other 20 percent of the time it is used as a verb?
Would that be shocking to you?
It was shocking to me because the predominant usage of the word sin in our churches and among Christians has been as a verb which we use to describe naughty little behaviors that we do. And as we have focused on sin primarily as a verb, we have unfortunately created hierarchies (or degrees) of sin.
For instance, we may view one’s infidelity to his/her spouse as a graver sin than gossiping about someone.
Or, we may view murder as a more egregious sin than telling a lie.
Or, we may view homosexuality as the worst “sin” one could ever commit — and a “sin” definitely worse than any one we could ever commit ourselves.
It’s ridiculous, this game we play.
All of it is tragically sad and shows just how much we have neglected Jesus’ teaching on “the speck in another’s eye before we take the log out of our own face.”
And the unfortunate consequence of creating these hierarchies or degrees of sin is how it causes us to see people. How it causes us to categorize people. How it causes us to marginalize people.
As we categorize people based upon the “degree of sin” or their perceived degree of “worthiness,” it further creates categories and divisions between ourselves and others. Doing this makes us quite good at elevating ourselves and creating “we vs. they” categories that influence how we talk about and relate to people.
In our perceived “superior position,” we can extend grace and love to people on a very conditional basis — one that is based upon another person’s merit or worthiness, and it can lead to us being very judgmental. Additionally, we can use our “superior position” to control “who’s in and who’s out, who’s saved and who’s damned, who’s right with God and whose not.”
All this because we have focused and talked about sin more as a verb than a noun.
Maybe that is because sin as a verb is a more comfortable place to be. We can insulate ourselves from “bad” people and “unworthy” people. Focusing on sin primarily as a verb can make a person or a group of people think of themselves in a more self-righteous manner, as if they have done something remarkable to “sin less” or become “more worthy” or become “better than others.”
But if we understood sin primarily as a noun we would see that it is a place in which we find ourselves, collectively. It is a place and position that is disconnected from the true Source of Life, which causes all of us to act and behave in ways that are less than godly. It is a place and position that falls short of God’s glory. And we are there together, friends.
But even more, if we understood sin differently we would recognize very quickly that we all stand in the same place. We are all disconnected from the Source. All of us.
There can be no hierarchy of bad behavior or worthiness, because it is not about the action but about the position. We all fall short. Read it again. All. And when we all are reoriented in how we understand sin (primarily as a place and position), it will have a profound impact on how we relate to other people in the same position.
When we finally realize that we are all in the same place we can begin to move from a place of “we-versus-they” to a place of just “we.” We can begin to move from the hierarchical mindset of sin and worthiness to the place of general unworthiness.
And we can also begin to move from a place of being quite conditional in extending our grace and love to other people based upon their perceived merit or worth to a place of extending unconditional grace and love despite the person or the action. It is in this place where we realize that the grace and love that God extends to we who are unworthy is the same grace and love we can now extend to each other.
That is a place of beauty and breakthrough. It is a place of true contrition and humbleness.
The great accomplishment of God through Jesus is that grace and love were extended to all of us despite our position in order to unite and bring back together that which has been separated and broken. There is nothing we can do to earn it, and it is not based upon merit or worthiness.
There is not one of us who can claim to be better or more righteous than another. All we can do is receive it and then unconditionally extend it to our brothers and sisters of the