Wednesday, November 5, 2014
The ugliness of sin. . .
Sin is offensive and ugly. When we peer into the mirror of the law of God, we find nothing pleasant staring back at us. Instead we see the face of sin -- raw, brutal, deceptive, corrosive, decadent, destructive. Somehow the modern forms of confession seem to focus more on our lack of being truly human than the reality of fallen humanity. We confess that we are judgmental against others, intolerant of others, and suspicious of others. We seldom get specific. We have murdered with words if not actions. We have rebelled against those who protect us. We have despised God's Word and the sound of His voice. We have painted up lust until it looks good in our eyes. We have lied until we no longer recognize or desire truth. We have stolen what belongs to others because we believe we deserve better than they. We have let desire for things and relationships and people consume us with the corrosive acid of envy and jealousy.
Instead we are more likely to lament our failure to be good stewards over the earth or realize our full potential for happiness or accept others without judgment. Our sin is not ugliness anymore. It is simply a shortage of the virtues of the moment. Such sins do not need a savior -- no way -- they just need a little more sensitivity on our part, a little more effort, a little more authenticity to our selves, and a little more love of me. Perhaps the sins of others are ugly but not our own. They are acceptable, understandable, reasonable, and justifiable.
The reason the Gospel does not mean so much to us (except as some vague principle of love) is that sin no longer is ugly to us, offensive to us, and shameful to us. I remember once a man who stood up on Sunday morning after being caught in a very public sin. He confessed what he had done, asked for the forgiveness of his brothers and sisters, and prayed them to help him to be restored to grace. Nobody wanted to hear it. We all just wanted him to go away. He was offensive to us not just in what he had done but in the way that he reminded us of sin's ugliness and shame. If he was a sinner, someone we thought we knew and could trust, that just might mean we were sinners, too. And that is too much to bear.
The Gospel will continue to be love lite until we admit and confess that sin is ugly and we have worn its terrible ugliness too well, too comfortably, and too easily. Only then will the ugliness of the cross with all its suffering and death become the beauty of redemption. Only when we admit we are sinners does the need for a savior and the person of Christ Jesus our Savior become hauntingly beautiful.
Sin is a scandal to the modern mind (like it was to the old mind that went before it). But the Gospel is a scandal that only makes sense if we admit the scandal of sin worn in our mortal nature is like the ill fitting clothing we were not meant to wear but have to wear since it is all we have. Then and only then will the custom tailored clothing of Christ's righteousness become the blessed clothing that fits us like we never knew anything could.