Christians have a rep for talking about sin a lot. We talk a lot about what we’re against and maybe we do that a bit more than we talk about what we’re for. It’s a dangerous game to play because when you don’t remind people that you actually are FOR some things as well, they just think you’re a real downer and mostly just don’t like people (unless they happen to be just like you).
I guess it’s a fair criticism at times. It’s way easier to talk about/preach against what we’re against because, unfailingly, we’re never against us. We’re always against those people over there. Picking up our stones and hurling them at those people standing over there does two things to make us feel better. 1. It crushes something that needs crushing and 2. We get to be the crushers which makes us awesome. We’re crushing it. (See what I did there?) It’s pretty tough to convince people that you don’t think you’re better than everyone when you’re constantly telling everyone why they’re worse than you. “It’s not that I’m the best, it’s that everyone else is the worst.”
That doesn’t buy a lot of love from people.
Then people go on sin-hunts to get back at us and, you know what? It turns out that you can end up being the crush-ee pretty easily. Christians make pretty good hypocrites. Of course, we know this. Inside most of our churches, we sing that tune loud and clear. We’re hypocrites and that’s why we need Jesus. But that message stops at the door for various reasons.
It’s a problem for us.
But the answer is not to talk about sin less. The modern bent is to soften the language of sin, the horror of sin, the ubiquity of sin. What everyone has is “need” more than they have sin. They “make mistakes” or something like that. But “sin” makes people increasingly uncomfortable.
As it should.
The term “sin,” Biblically, carries all kinds of connotations. It’s “missing the mark,” as churches loved to tell us when I was growing up. But’s also debt. It’s rule-breaking. It’s ignorance. It’s judgment. It’s evil. It’s rebellion. It’s all of that and more. Those are all Biblical ways to talk about sin.
To put it simply, sin is disastrous. It is spiritually and even physically murderous. Sin happens to us and to Creation. Sin is terrible stuff we do or think. Sin is our awful failure to do what is right. Sin is catastrophic.
We talk about sin not because we’re obsessed with it (or we shouldn’t be), but because we’re horrified by it. We’re aware that it’s sneaky and destructive and pervasive. It’s not just rule-breaking like failing to raise your hand to speak in class. It plunges the perpetrator into the grave. Sin destroys life and disintegrates humanity.
It’s a big, big deal.
We talk about it because sin isn’t ever “just a little sin.” It consumes life, sucks it up like a black hole. We never make light of it because we don’t make light of life. Life is a big deal. If life is a big deal, death is a big deal. If sin brings death at every level, then sin is a big deal. It’s the biggest deal. It’s the world-ruiner.
Unless sin can be ruined.
We can talk about judgment because we talk about a Judge who hates what kills us. We talk about death because we believe that life can swallow it up. We talk about rebellion that merits a traitor’s death because mercy and favor is available. We talk honestly about how sin invades our lives in sneak ways at every level of our being, plunging us into darkness, because our whole being, at every level, can be redeemed and reconciled to the Light, the Life of men and women.
Sin is not what we love. Sin can garner obscene curiosity because our eyes are naturally drawn towards car wrecks. But we shouldn’t be talking about sin like that. We should say the Truth mournfully so that we can speak Hope loudly.
We’re not about sin. We’re about the destruction of sin. We’re not about everyone else’s defeat. We’re about victory in Jesus. We’re not about a grisly hell that we hope is full of tormented souls. We’re about a God who has ruined the power of hell to bring heaven back to Earth.
We hate sin because we hate death.
We love Jesus. He brings life.
Yeah, we talk about sin. Maybe too much sometimes. But we can’t stop talking about it altogether because we can’t stop telling each other, wide-eyed and in wonder, “Can you believe the size of the dragon that the Hero slew? Do you remember how it threatened our homes and our lives? Can you believe He threw the dragon into the grave? Could anyone else have won such a battle? Surely not!”
Jesus is the hero of the story. Sin and its purveyor are broken and bleeding on the ground, yet still able to pull us into the void of its dying grasp. It’s a danger that’s still real, even as it is surely moving towards destruction. The enemies of our lives keep lurking around, but Jesus is can and does vanquish it. We can’t stop talking about sin because we can’t get over the whole story. We can’t stop talking about it. It’s too good a story not to tell again and again.