The Bible is a guide book for Christians. It contains scripture, stories, parables, and advice on how to deal with life as a follower of Christ and a believer in God.
In the United States at least, a lot of emphasis is put on merit. If you do well in class, you get into a good college. If you donate a bunch of money, you can get a building named after you. If you’re really smart or do enough good, you might even be rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize.
But scrap all of that and keep reading. I want to tell you about something that is really difficult to understand. It’s the problem of sin.
WHAT IS SIN, EXACTLY?
Sin is generally anything that goes against the word of God. Anything that can be deemed as morally wrong in the eyes of God is considered a sin. Some of these include theft, murder, lying, and many more.
Some of the old hymns that we sing in church may make it out like Christians and sinners aren’t the same thing. I’m sure that the writers were more trying to communicate that we sin less when we become Christians, but that might not be true wither.
The truth is that Christians and non-Christians alike sin every day. The difference is our response to sin. As a Christian, I can tell you that I recognize my sin much more than I did when I was not a Christian or when I had drifted away from God.
For example, if I say something bad about someone, or even think something bad about someone, I feel as though I did wrong. Sometimes it takes me a while, sometimes I feel this immediately. When I wasn’t a Christian or when I drifted away from God, I said awful things about people all the time and didn’t really care.
I didn’t realize that I was effectively disrespecting God’s creation: another human.
The beauty of being a Christian is that, if you are sincere, God forgives your sins. By that I mean that you can’t just go around each and every day pushing over old ladies knowing that God “will” forgive you. In essence, you can’t take advantage of God’s forgiveness because that inherently shows that you don’t respect his authority and forgiving nature anyway.
CHRISTIANS AND SIN
The Crusades are often a topic of conversation because the death of several innocents was wrong. The same can be said for slavery and Jim Crowe laws where people of color were targeted by lynch mobs and made to use separate doors, bathrooms, etc. Jim Crowe and slavery were more popular in the South around the Bible belt region. Many white southerners perverted scripture to make it seem as though people of color were lesser than white people. Here is a video about segregation and Jim Crowe.
My point in mentioning these significant moments in history is to showcase the fact that Christians still sin. Christians still do things that are wrong. Betty who sits in church every time a service is happening still gossips about the other women in the church. Your Christian coworker may get frustrated and say some not-so-Godly things. It is wrong and there is no excusing that.
As humans, we are all exposed to sin, even Christians. With God on our side and Jesus in our hearts, we are able to feed the good which in turn hopefully will outweigh the sin and badness of life. But we still mess up.
THE HARD PILL TO SWALLOW
I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post that the reality of sin was difficult to swallow for Christians. But, the truth is, a lot of self-righteous people will look at themselves in comparison to others and put themselves on a moral high horse despite the fact that they too are still sinners.
The hard pill to swallow is that sin is sin. It’s all sin and it is all bad in God’s eyes. When you see a criminal holed up in a jail cell for assault, you may look at him and say “I am better than he is.” While you are better in merit (i.e. your naughty list is a lot shorter than his), you are still a sinner.
Until you become a Christian, you look the same to God. Even as a Christian, you still look like a sinner to God. It is because Jesus bled and died for you that you are even worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. That’s why Jesus is the key.
In the old days, sacrifices were made to God to atone for sins. The sacrifice would be something like a lamb or sometimes it would be things like fruit. Of course, faith in God was also very important. You have people like Job and Sarah who both lived on faith that God would protect them or fulfil his promise to them. They let God take the wheel in their life.
But God did something amazing. He decided that, rather than have animals be sacrificed to him, he would come down in human form as his son, Jesus, to live a sinless life, preach about God’s love and forgiveness, clarify some of the miscommunications in the church, die on a cross without having done any wrong, and rise from the dead three days later.
This sacrifice is effectively God shedding his own blood to cover the sins of everyone, should they believe on him and Jesus, who gave the sacrifice.
WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO NON-CHRISTIANS
I want to apologize to non-Christians. I’m sorry if any of us have ever made you feel lesser than us. We are all human and we all mess up. But our humanity and sin nature pushes us further from God.
I want to tell you that you and I, we are physically and mentally the same. We are both tempted to sin, we both commit sin, we both can feel guilty of our sin. Nowhere in the Bible does it say I am better than you. On the contrary, I am just a beggar who has found bread. Now I want to share it with you.
It is Christ who helps me overcome some temptations I may have had before. It is Christ who helps me carry my burdens so I am not crushed under the weight of them. It is Christ who forgives me when I mess up and truly am sorry for the wrong I do. It is Christ that loved me enough to sacrifice himself for me. It is Christ that turns my temporary happiness into continuous joy.
Apart from Christ, we are the same. But the good news is, if anything I said in the previous paragraph gives you longing, Christ wants to be with you, not apart from you. God is not willing that any should perish. But when we choose to live outside of His will and His guidance, He isn’t going to force us to spend an eternity with Him. He respects our free will too much to force anything like that on anyone. He even partially limited his will and power to give us the power to choose Him. That’s because love isn’t love if it is programmed into us like software. Love has to be a free decision.
He made that decision for us at creation and on the cross, will you make the decision to love Him?
LEGAL: All photos are my own or taken from Pixabay, a creative commons website that requires no attribution for photo use.
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HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
There is a common misconception that there are several ways to get to Heaven when you die. This isn't true. JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN.
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do: