Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beginning to Understand

"Sin? Me? No, not often, not in a 'bad' way anyway. I am a 'good' person after all." That is what I normally think, and that is why, in my "heart of hearts," I am jaded to the wonder of the cross. I don’t think I’m all that bad. When a youth group of the church that I attended in my hometown asked random people in a coffee shop if they thought they were a “good person,” almost everyone said yes, with a few people that identified themselves as Christians saying “no.” If we think we are good, then we have no need for a savior and Jesus doesn’t make sense. At most you might think it is noble of him to sacrifice himself for others, offering himself as the perfect atonement for everyone’s sins since he led a sinless, perfect life. You might tip your hat to that, say “thank you kindly sir” and be on your way. I’m guilty of it. I’ve known it for a while. I can praise and thank God for my life and the people in it, I can praise him for each breath he gives me and I have no problem doing it sincerely. What I can’t do is begin to understand the greatest gift God has given me in my salvation until I understand the gravity of my sin (and the sin of humanity in general).

The other night I saw the movie “The Green Mile” for first time and wow did it move me. I couldn’t go to sleep that night because my mind was still whirling from the movie. In the movie, the character of John Cauphy (not sure if I’m spelling the last name right, all I know is that it is “like the drink, only spelled different”) is on death row accused of raping and murdering two little girls, however (Spoiler!) he is wrongfully accused. John is blessed, or perhaps cursed is a better word, with two amazing gifts: he can heal people by momentarily taking the sickness/evil upon himself and suffering before “coughing” it up, and he can also see into people’s hearts and know what they’ve done. The movie does a great job portraying the wickedness that exists in man and when John says he has had enough of this world you understand why. When Tom Hank’s character (the death row guard) asks John Couphy if he should let him escape or proceed with the execution, John says he will be executed and he is ok with it, in fact it would come as a relief to him. You get the sense that John is a lot older than he appears to be, and the hurts and pains caused by evil that he has witnessed and taken upon himself grieves him terribly and has worn him down. It is when John explains the pain that other humans have caused that I began to understand my own sin and the necessity of Jesus. Jesus too was wrongfully accused. Jesus too died in place of other peoples’ sins. Jesus bears the hurt in pain of everyone as a compassionate and loving God. Jesus, as the Living Word, has been around for eternity and has seen more injustices and felt more pain than we can imagine.

The thing that I realized is that I, as a sinner, hurt Jesus too. Whenever I sin I rarely only hurt myself. Is it possible to sin and only hurt yourself? Often I will hurt others with my pride, by being judgmental, by being bitter, with my selfishness, etc. I am so guilty. Even though I may not have physically committed a terrible crime in the world’s eyes, like murder, there have been times when I’ve been so angry and frustrated I have thought some terrible things in my fit of rage. In the Bible, Jesus says that thinking things is just as condemnable as doing them. (Matthew 5). The Bible also makes it clear that your sin is not relative to other people’s sins. For example, I might think that I am not that bad of a sinner because I have never done anything thing “really bad” like murder, stealing, adultery, etc. but that would be comparing my sins to other people’s sins and you can always find someone who is “worse.” Instead, our sins are relative to God’s holiness, which thus makes every sin about the same in severity because the amount that they are separated from God is infinitely farther then they are separated from themselves (if they are indeed separated). When we understand just how far we are from God’s holiness, then we can understand more of God’s love and what an amazing thing Jesus did for us on the cross. How do we understand the difference between God and ourselves? Study the Bible. The more I read the Bible/the Word of God/what Jesus personified, the more I see my own flaws. It isn’t fun always, but it does bring me closer to God, humbles me, and allows me to praise God even more.

If you can’t see your own sin, deny it, make excuses for it, then you are deceiving yourself, as well as harming yourself (though you may be too stubborn to realize it). “5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:5-10

With confession comes healing. With the beginnings of understanding the cross, comes the start of a great adventure--with a happy ending. ;)

1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-

18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

22 Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.”

(Psalm 103)

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