Friday, February 8, 2013

What do you do with sin?

What do you do with sin?

Not you personally, though that, too, is an interesting question. But I ask this in the corporate sense. The French "vous." You--the church. You--the community of faith. You--the prophetic voice in your town. What do you do with sin?

Do you ignore it?

Do you preach against it from afar, keeping a safe distance?

Do you cover it up?

Do you just wish it would go away?

Do you glorify it?

Do you look down your nose at it?

Do you excuse it?

The fact is we live in a world of sinners, ourselves included. God has told us what to do with sin, but many times the church falls short. We've gotten very good at using our pulpits to decry the evils of sin; yet, we rarely grieve our own sins sincerely. We preach about healing and redemption; but we fail to walk people through the steps of repentance and reconciliation. We are called to this. It is the right thing to do with the wrong things we have done.

We have bought into the lie that sin is a private affair. We have been tricked into thinking that we do not need to confess our sins to one another and that we are showing love when we turn a blind eye to the sins of those around us.

YES, there is a time to overlook a sin. I can reply kindly to a rude remark and leave it at that. I can pick up my husband's dirty laundry and never mention the offense of laziness. I do think that we have many opportunities to show grace and love in the face of non-habitual sins.

But there are also times when we, the body of Christ, must deal with sin. And not because we are superior. Not because we are perfect. Not even because it is just the "right" thing to do. We must deal with sin because it is the loving thing to do. It is the godly thing to do. It is the redemptive thing to do. It is the hopeful thing to do.

Imagine this:

A guy walks into church, and says he is interested in learning more about God. He sounds sincere. He smells of alcohol. He looks broken, desperate even.

He needs Jesus; but where to start?

A listening ear. An invitation to study the Bible. An encouraging word.

And he keeps coming.

Eventually, the plot thickens. It turns out that this man is the father of five young children. Their mother is a woman that he has never bothered to marry. The mother of his children is disgusted with him; ready to leave. His interest in religion is only exacerbating their problems.


Sin is messy.

What do you do?

What do you do with sin?

It can't be coddled! But can it be confronted? Can it be confronted even before one comes to Christ? Is truth TRUTH, regardless of belief? Can love be communicated in the context of confrontation?


In fact, I am not sure what we communicate when we do not confront sin, but I am pretty sure it is not love. If we really believe that God's way is best, shinning light into dark places is the most loving thing that we can do.

We must confront sin with a desire for redemption and not a desire for condemnation.

We must be broken and grieved over then sin, but warm and compassionate toward the sinner.

We must hold out the promise of healing and forgiveness without minimizing the gravity of the offense.

We must remember that Jesus already paid the price; once for all.

What do you do with sin?

The man in the story hears the truth of his situation--the truth is, he is living in sin. He is told that God loves Him and that God wants him to love the mother of his children. God wants him to become the shepherd of his family. And that if he gives his life to Jesus, Jesus will help him to become the husband and father that God made him to be.

He listens. He bristles. He ponders.

The next week he comes to church. He sits in the back row. He hears a gospel message. He weeps. He raises his hand. He goes forward. He gives his life--his very messy life --to Jesus.

As he take his first communion, I realize that he is not the same broken man that walked into church a few weeks earlier. He is saved. A scripture comes to mind:

Naked and poor, wretched and blind I come...,clothe me in white!

The great exchange: we trade our brokenness for His righteousness. He wants to set us free from our sin; Jesus can make us whole. We do not have to be afraid of sin--the debt has been paid in full. Proclaim it!

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