One Loaded Little Word

(Original draft 09 April, 2007)

Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and millions of Christians, quasi-believers and the guilt ridden filed into churches world-wide to celebrate a Risen Savior, or to at least purge themselves of another years’ worth of sin.

Sin is a funny word: three letters, not phonetically challenging in the least and filled with so much. In our age of relativity, and accepted lack of absolutes, sin is a dirty word, and I don’t mean what it does to ones soul. It’s dirty like swearing used to be. I can say almost any word/phrase I choose (in public or private) and it won’t get the same reaction as saying “That’s a sin”. I can condemn anyone by stating: go to hell. Depending on the volume I use few would give me a second look if I said that anywhere. But, why is it I am condemned by stating the obvious: you sinned? I know it’s a rhetorical question. But for the sake of people who believe relativity is a valid way of spiritual living and that there are no absolutes, I’ll argue their case.

When I condemn, by saying ‘go to hell’, I’m telling them “You are wrong; I am right. You are weak; I am strong.” But because I am here, next to you, on this corporal plain called life on earth, it doesn’t matter to you, because you can easily return the *favor* later, and condemn me to hell, and we are still equal; well all things being relative that is. You and I aren’t mass murders, after all, just maybe recovering shoplifters, or at worst fudge a little on our tax returns. We aren’t Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein or Genghis Khan. We’re both pretty good, most of the time, right?

So I say to you later: you sinned. I am, in effect, saying “You are wrong; you are weak; you are worthy to be condemned.” But now, I am not the Judge, just the messenger, stating a flaw — your flaw. Nowhere in that do I say I am stronger or right, but that’s what gets read into my message because we hate to be wrong and weak. Now I have brought into the mix a notion that life is not *relative* and that there are absolutes, and of course that is a very disagreeable notion because now there is no *favor* to return (but you will try, by pointing out all of my flaws, in such a delicate and gracious way, won’t you? hhmm) You must answer to a Judge, who is also Jury. Saying SIN means that God is involved, and it’s easier to just not think about Him, as He is old, ancient, out-dated and irrelevant.

Is there really much difference between the two? The end result of both phrases will get you to the same place, won’t it? I can tell someone to go to hell, or tell them they are going to go to hell. The wages of sin is death, you are going to go to hell. What if I had the power in my words to actually send you to this place that is name-dropped so flippantly? Suppose I said, “Go – to – Hell” and in the next instant you were actually there?

“Wait!,” you object loudly, “Hell isn’t even real, is it? I mean, it’s just a phrase, right? There can’t really be lakes filled with burning sulfur fires, and Satan and demons, and stuff, right? ‘Cuz that would, be like, so… unfair.”

Yup, unfair, indeed, because I am the one sending you there- because we are both nearly equally good people. But God never said He was FAIR, only JUST. Justice isn’t about fairness, it is this: “merited reward or punishment; that which is due to one’s conduct or motives”. (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 1913**) Justice is doing what is right, even if the the end result is unpopular, or makes you unpopular. God’s justice has made Him very unpopular, throughout all of history.

The wages of sin is death. That’s not my law, I didn’t write it. I’m just the messenger, remember?

~~~ ~~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~

**Why so old a definition? the same reason if you looked up gay, it’s doesn’t mean just happy, delightful anymore. Contemporary dictionaries have equated fairness to justice today, but they are not the same thing. Definitions are swayed by popular culture, and a word becomes redefined to suit popular demands, which can be a disservice to it’s true intent.


2 thoughts on “One Loaded Little Word

  1. Pingback: When Sorrow Returns (Unexpected) Joy « My Own Little Soap-box

  2. Sin has a face, a place, a groundedness that fairness does not. Forgive my inability to quote chapter and verse, but the only personification of sin mentioned in scripture occurs in Genesis when God says to Cain “Sin (like a lion?) crouches at your door…,” and somewhere (in Exodus?) Moses leads the Israelites through a place known as the “Wilderness of Sin.” Sin then, is the hunter to our hunted, and sin is a place of desolation. Fairness (important as it is) bespeaks only equity, or it’s lack. Justice bespeaks not only “right or wrong”, but also “here or there.” If I am judged righteous, I remain. If I am judged guilty, I…must…go…away. Apart. IE: Prison, banishment, execution (away from life), and yes…hell (away from God). The Church “excommunicates” (breaks communion with) the unrepentant sinner, they…must…go…away, from the (Mystical) Body of Christ, of which they were once a part, and are no longer.

    Consequence. Justice. In or out. Unfair? Probably. I can here the rumblings of defensiveness in my 20th century, (North) American mind. “I was just…,” I wanted to…,” “but they…,” “but…,” but…” To no avail.

    Fortunately, for us, Mercy, is as unfair as Justice. IF we recognize our sin. If we turn from it, we can count on restoration, no matter what we’ve done, or how badly, we’ve sinned. We accept the Gift of Salvation, of forgiveness, and we may then, come…back…home, in the arms of the one who died to save us. Yes, we may have to mend fences, make amends, rebuild trust. Restoration…reconciliation is not inexpensive or easy. There are still consequences. Yet, we are not alone, Christ will help us endure the journey home. It is he that will help us pick-up the pieces, defend us from the lion, and see us safely through the wilderness, back to his heart, and to the hearts of those we’ve hurt.

    May God instill in us again, the meaning of sin, so that we can know the meaning of grace.

    Thanks, Linda


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