Thursday, July 07, 2011


A couple of Sunday mornings ago I talked about a tough subject. Sin.  What follows is an abridged version of my remarks.  If you want to hear the whole thing go to i tunes and look under podcasts. Search for  ...  2HC: 2nd Hour Contemporary at Christ Church of Oak Brook.

I’m losing the pigment in my skin. I have a disease.  It’s called vitiligo.  It's not catchy and by itself it is not life threatening. My hands and feet are spotted and I have spotting under one eye and around my lips.  One downside is that losing pigment makes me much more susceptible to skin cancer. So I pay attention and take protective measures. Vitiligo certainly has a cosmetic impact but Anita assures me my modeling days are probably far behind me so it probably won't matter all that much.

It’s the same disease Michael Jackson had by the way. He was often accused of bleaching his skin.  I can understand why.  The white splotches on black skin is cosmetically jarring and for entertainers certainly not what they wish for.

Tim Keller in his book, King’s Cross, talks about sin being a stain that cuts across all human history and shows up in our lives.  Lots of people don't like to talk about sin.  Some people I know don't like to deal with the shadow side of their nature. Don't like to hear Jesus talking in hard ways.  Or for that matter their pastors.

It’s kind of a downer subject. For the most part we're rather ho hum about sin these days until someone else's sinfulness intersects with our life.  And then we're all over it.

Keller  says that “According to Jesus, in our natural sinful state we’re unfit for the presence of God.”  Most people these days have a problem with this.  We don't like looking at ourselves as unclean, defiled, or evil. We think we’re basically good and have fixable issues, primarily cosmetic and certainly not life threatening, and certainly nothing that will keep us from the eternal reward people like us deserve. "And if there is a God," many say, "He is certainly more chummy than holy and that there's no way we stand before him guilty and condemned.” 

"Can't we just talk about God's love?" folks wonder. We could but it’s been said that "in the bright sunshine of God's love our shadow begins to emerge and then and only then will begin to understand how great God's love really is.” One of the identifiers of Christian people is that they understand that they are 'loved sinners'.

But we don't even like to call sin .... sin. And we struggle with calling ourselves sinners. We call sin a dysfunction, an undesirable family of origin issue, a result of bad choices, or a chemical imbalance. "Sin is what I do when I'm not being myself," some will say.

Actually sin is something we do when we are ourselves. It's imprint is deep in our lives.  It appears to be our default life mechanism and it shows itself in all kinds of ugly ways.  It shows up in how we act and how we fail to act..  The presence of sin is so easy to see our lives, in our cultural systems, in our politics, in our history and in our economic life. It's a stain. It's a big deal.

Throughout the story of faith the stain of sin is ever present. It’s a huge subplot. But it's not bigger than the story of the God who loves.  He's bigger than sin. He wins you know.  And the only stain that will someday remain is a stain called love ...and it's truly quite beautiful. But in the meantime we pay attention and do what’s necessary to protect ourselves …just as I have to do with my vitiligo. Sin is a reality we live with and must deal with but for those of us who love Jesus …it can’t destroy us ultimately.  But if we don’t pay attention sin can surely muck up our lives and create havoc on others.

No comments: