The following segment is taken from Chapter 6: Talking about sin in the book Holy Conversations. For the last six weeks, myself and a group of folks have been meeting and sharing our thoughts and the process of telling our faith stories both online at Facebook and in person with a small group that meets at First Lutheran Church on a weekly basis. Would you like to become a part of this conversation? Our question this week has to do with the topic of sin. Take a minute and read the following section and feel free to post your responses below or at our Holy Conversations group online here. Thank you for your honesty and mutual respect as you take part in the ongoing conversation of faith, life and the challenge to understand and talk about it.
"You are dirty rotten sinners, the whole lot of you!"
We can picture the scene in our minds. A tall gaunt, dark-clad minister is pointing his bony finger at a group of people who are cringing at this words. They aren't bad people. They just don't match up to the impossibly strict standards of the preacher.
A bleak scene? Yes. An accurate rendering of clergy past or present? Not at all. But nevertheless this image is present in our culture: the harsh judgmental, religious fanatic who wants to suck the joy out of life.
Unfortunately this colors the way many people think about the whole concept of sin. And many people think sin is doing what fanatics think you should not do. In other words, sin is merely a matter of definition. "Who is he/she to tell me what I should or should not do?"
When we do think about sin (which is not often) we take it to be something really gross. It is doing evil things like beating up somebody, cheating on your spouse, robbing a bank or consciously lying about something really important - stuff most of us would never do. So sin is not a word we ever apply to ourselves.
Consequently, if Christian conversationalists use the word sin in our conversation, we invoke all the wrong images. However, the biblical view of sin is much broader and much more comprehensive than either gross evil or breaking unreasonable regulations. So it's really important that when we talk about sin we do so in a ways that help others understand what the Bible teaches about sin and how culture has come to define sin...
So, when you think about the work SIN, what comes to mind? Which "sins" are the most challenging for you ( anger, lust, pride, and so on), and how does Jesus help you with this problem?
(From pages 65-66 of the book Holy Conversations by Richard Peace)