16 February 2016

Forget the Word Sin

Let's talk about sin. What's sin? Well, it's doing bad things. Right? Sin is coveting, lying, stealing, fornicating, and murdering.

Maybe those things are sins.

But did you know that "sin" is an archery term? "Sin" means, missing the mark. There's a target with a bull's eye on it. I draw the bow string back, and let the arrow fly. If I hit the bull's eye, great. If I don't, I've sinned. I've missed the mark.

Life is the bull's eye. Anything that misses the mark of life is sin. Anything that doesn't flow from life and lead to life is sin.

Christians, I want you to forget about the word, "sin." Not forever. But for the moment, set it aside,

The word "sin is too churchy. It's too loaded. People balk when you talk about "sin." What's your reaction when someone says to you, "You're a sinner"? I'll bet it's defensive.

"Who're you calling sinner? I'm not a sinner. You're a sinner!"
"Maybe I'm a sinner, but what right do you have to accuse me?"

We think of sin as something a person does, as a conscious choice to "be bad." Sin is something that's you're fault. *You're a sinner.

People balk at that. It doesn't matter if it's true. People don't want to hear it, and they shut down immediately if you say it to them.

Then there's the fact that it's very difficult, if not impossible, at this time and place in history, to call someone a "sinner" without sounding like you're setting yourself up as a judge and talking down to people.

But you can sidestep the problem of judgment, and people will give you a hearing if you talk about these things:


People understand you immediately when you talk about the injustice of a legal system that's slanted toward the rich, white, and powerful. People recognize unfairness when they see it, even in themselves. People can relate to the randomness of a plane crash. They know what it's like to catch a cold, miss work with the flu, or receive a diagnosis of cancer. Only the psychopathic fail to understand the horrors of violence. No one wants to die. You don't need to convince hardly anyone that these things aren't the way that things should be.

Sin *is injustice, unfairness, randomness, sickness, violence, and death. among other things.

So why are we using the word "sin" when everybody balks at it, and doesn't want to hear it, when we could just use those other words that people *instantly understand, relate to, and agree with?

Maybe we should try that.

You don't need to use the word "sin" to convey the message that life is filled with disappointment, heartache, and failure. And you don't need to accuse people of being a part of that. They already know that they don't always hit the mark. You don't need to call them a "sinner."

So don't.

Forget the word sin.

07 February 2016

I am a long suffering Cleveland Browns fan. In many ways my journey has mirrored that of the Jewish people, which is to say, it has been a long road of suffering, wrestling with God, and awaiting the Messiah who will lead our people in conquest over our enemies and oppressors into the promised land of the Super Bowl end zone, and the Lombardi trophy presentation stage.  

Today, my thoughts turn back to January 11th, 1987, when, in our first Temple, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the invading Broncos from Denver, led by that Nebuchadnezzar, John Elway, marched 98 yards down the field of battle in an improbable and heart wrenching assault that tied the contest at 20, fate then handing those battle horses the ball, a field goal, and the victory. We remember this lamentable occasion as only: The Drive. 

On this holiest of holy days, Super Bowl Sunday, our second Temple, First Energy Stadium, TM, stands empty. The glory departed when the first Temple fell, and it has never returned. The clouds that overshadow us are not the Shekinah, but those of depression and disappointment. It's easy to understand why most among us blame and curse one man to this day: Elway. When the Broncos fall, Cleveland, our Jerusalem will rise again.  

But I met a man who taught me something different. No matter how many  Devils of Denver are slaughtered by the saviors, San Francisco-Joe, or Carolina-Cam, there will not be peace in this city of Shalom until there is peace in the hearts of its people, and love even for our enemies. Because, the truth is, the men under those blue and orange, "D" helmets are not our enemies, and they *never have been. 

Our enemies are our own poor practice habits, poor play, poor draft choices, poor coaching choices, poor spending habits, and poor attitudes. These are the great Satans who hold us back, keep us down, and incite us to riots. We are indeed oppressed. But I have met the enemy, and he is us.  

Who helped me to see these things? Who opened my eyes to the truth? Let us just say that he is something more than a Manning, though a Manning he is. He stands trial today in the house called Levi. And though by sundown he may be crucified, he has made a believer of me. That is why today, this Cleveland Browns fan will be rooting for the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl.  

Go Bro(wns)ncos

04 February 2016

A Short Catechism

A short catechism:

Q: What is God like? 
A: God is like Jesus. 
(John 1:1, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-4, 1 John 4:8 -10). 

Q: How much is God like Jesus? 
A: God is exactly like Jesus.
(John 1:1, John 10:30-33, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:1-4).

Q: What is Jesus like? 
A: Jesus is loving, forgiving, and embracing.
(John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:1-39, John 14:6, 1 Tim 2:5, John 10:10, John 15:9-17, 2 Corinthians 5:19.)

Q: How loving, forgiving, and embracing is Jesus? 
A: Jesus is all loving, all forgiving, and all embracing.
( 2 Corinthians 5:19, John 15:9-17, Micah 7:18-20, 1 John 4:8-10).

Q: How do you know this? 
A: Because He loved, forgave, and embraced His murderers, the murderers of God. There is no greater sin.
(Luke 23:34, 1 John 2:1-2, 1 Corinthians 13:5).

Q: What about those passages that paint Jesus as something less than all loving, all forgiving, and all embracing? 
A: The central event governs recollections of lesser events.
(Revelation 13:8, John 3:16, Isaiah 43:25, Isaiah 1:18, Ephesians 1:7 Colossians 1:13, Matthew 26:28, 2 Corinthians 5:13-16).

Q: What if you are wrong, and God is not all loving, all forgiving, and all embracing? 
A: Then there are no such things as love, forgiveness, or embrace at all, for light knows no shadow.
(Lamentations 3:22-24, James 1:17, Matthew 7:11, 2 Timothy 2:11-13)

Q: Is not God unfair to love, forgive, and embrace everyone? 
A: Nothing could be more fair, equitable, or beautiful. The God and creator of all loves, forgives, and embraces all.
(John 3:16, Revelation 13:8, Revelation 1:18, 2 Corinthians 5:19).

Q: Will all come to know God's love, forgiveness, and embrace? 
A: Strictly this is unknown. But charity and reason both insist that the answer is, yes.
(2 Peter 3:9, Isaiah 30:18, Ezekiel 33:11, Romans 2:4, 1 Timothy 2:4) -- This is specifically speaking on the Lords heart. His desire.

Q: If all will eventually know God's love, forgiveness, and embrace, what need is there of telling anyone of this? 
A: That they may know these wonderful things all the sooner, and begin to live in and by them.
(2 Peter 1:2-4, Ephesians 1:3-14, 1 Corinthians 14:1)

Special thanks to Cordell Winrow for help with the Scripture references.  

#Catechism #GodIsLikeJesus #Universalism