Over dinner last night, a friend and I had a spirited conversation about a whole range of issues that we as Christians today engage with. We both agreed that there is a lot of fixation on ‘sin’ in church culture and that it tends to lead to a culture of condemnation. Nonetheless, he asked me to clarify my understanding of sin and how it sits in my theological framework.
Here’s my attempt at a response:
Sin is missing the mark. It is not fulfilling the full potential God envisions for us. It is us pooping our pants as toddlers. It is us falling down in our learning to walk.
Should we obsess over our falling down or our poopings?
Because we either grow out of it, or we learn to walk better. I believe that God is less fixated on our falling down than He is on our walking. I believe He is about the words of encouragement, the “That’s alright. Get up. Come on now. Let’s keep walking” than naming and blaming and shaming our falling.
His forgiveness, is in Him giving us this encouragement. In not choosing to focus on our falling short, but on the full potential of what is to come.
Of course, if we choose to remain in our sin, to not get up when we fall, to essentially not ‘repent’, then we can never experience the full forgiveness of what God wants to give to us.
We fall short/sin on a daily basis. There is so little of our lives that is truly Spirit-led. So much of our lives are lived out of our flesh, our selfish instincts. Every so often, we bear some semblance of the very image by which we were created in; when we love, when we care for one another, when we create, when we pause to appreciate beauty. But more often than not, we resemble mere animals.
Salvation is Jesus saving us from our state of devolution. What started out as image bearers of the Creator has spiraled into cycles of death, animal instincts, evil. Jesus showed us what a human being bearing the full image of God looks like, lives like, talks like, eats like, loves like. And He promises a New Life to all that choose to follow His life. A life after life after death(no typo here). A resurrection.
We are not saved from a fiery place called ‘hell’ that we go to when we die. We are saved from our own degeneration. But salvation is received only if we choose to reject this degeneration by our own will. Many will prefer to live out of their selfish desires, many will refuse the Spirit’s urging towards life that bears the Creator’s image. But when the Creator comes back to clean up His house, those that no longer bear his image, will be cast out of the house.
Our salvation, is not just about my ‘rship with God’, it is about us as a humanity, coming back to what it means to be truly human again, bearing the image of the Creator.