Welcome back to the GOSPEL! To refresh your memory, here’s the hot rockin’ acronym that’s been lighting up the top of the Pop Metaphysical Charts:
G– God made you to have a personal relationship with Him.
O– Our sins separate us from God.
S– Sin cannot be removed with good works.
P– Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again.
E– Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life.
L– Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever.
So far we’ve taken a good look at the person we call “God.” He made you to have a personal relationship with him. In a previous episode I unpacked some of his defining traits, but summing up the eternal God in a two page semi-weekly blog is like drawing New York City on a Napkin.
This week, we’re going to take a look at the second letter in our acronym, whose name I am not allowed to say on account of it being copyrighted, trademarked, and owned by Harpo Studios. But I think you know the one I mean. You may remember this vowel from the start of the Canadian National Anthem, or from the end of the names of some of your favorite cereals and canned spaghetti’s.
“Our Sin separates us from God.”
One of the most unpopular concepts in the Christian faith is in this little phrase. People are simply offended by the word “sin.” They feel that, when you call something a “sin,” you are condemning it as being wrong, and saying it is something they should NOT do. The reason people feel this way is simple.
It’s because that’s exactly what it means.
There are two kinds of sins: Sins of commission and sins of omission– that’s doing what you should NOT do, or not doing what you SHOULD do. Let me put it in terms of rubber ducks.
A sin of commission would be putting your rubber ducky on the stove. The duck is meant to make bath time lots of fun, but you have put it over an open flame. Not only will you be grounded for touching the stove when your dad has told you not to, but you have caused irreparable damage to your rubber duck, and the smell of burning rubber will never come out of those kitchen drapes. Your sin of omission is failing to put your rubber duck in the bathtub (like you were told to) so he could make bath time lots of fun.
You are SO grounded, young man. Go to your room!
What is a “sin” exactly? The term comes from archery. In plain English it means “ to miss the bull’s-eye.” When you miss the bull’s-eye, it doesn’t matter how much or little you missed by. A miss is a miss. A near miss is closer than a far miss, but it’s still not a bull’s-eye. This is one of the reasons the Bible speaks of being in sin as being spiritually dead. You’re either alive (sinless and right with God) or you’re not (sinful and in rebellion against God). No one is “Kind of” dead or, despite what you may have heard from Miracle Max, “Mostly Dead.” Those in the grave can’t argue about who is more dead than who. It doesn’t matter how you die or when. Dead is dead. This is called “the transitive property of dead,” (Bogus Mathematical Theorems, S.Bad 2007).
We were made with a purpose. Our purpose is to be in a loving relationship with our creator God. Just as your relationship with your earthly dad suffers when you refuse to obey (Not to mention the rubber ducks and kitchen drapes), your relationship with God is damaged when you sin. God made everything with its own true purpose. When we abuse those purposes, we are doing wrong and usually doing damage. A rubber duck is meant to be in the tub, not on the stove.
Anything can be an example of this- take wine and cheese. Wine and cheese are both made by God to be enjoyed by us. When we have them in the right amounts, we fulfill those purposes and we are glorifying God by enjoying his gifts as intended. When we get greedy and abuse these gifts by having too much, we will get drunk and fat. This kills our brain cells, our liver, and our major arteries. What was supposed to bring us joy winds up bringing a heart attack or a night kneeling before the porcelain throne. Then we wind up featured on Cops and ashamed to show our faces at our high school reunion.
Also, the things we do have an effect on others. Jesus taught us that the two greatest commandments were to love God and your neighbors. We’ve already seen that sin hurts our relationships with God, but it also hurts our relationships with others. Just take a quick look at the Ten commandments and ask yourself, “Will violating these commands help any of my relationships?” I think you’ll find that choosing to lie, cheat, break promises, steal, and envy won’t result in group hugs and singing “Kumbiya” while holding hands.
You’ll probably get punched. I’m just warning you.
C.S. Lewis, in his brilliant book “Mere Christianity” likens the human experience to a fleet of ships. A ship has a purpose. It is meant to stay afloat and carry passengers and cargo from one place to another. If it is used for another purpose, it is being misused. To fulfill this purpose, it must be working internally. This is why some good things like disciplines and attitudes which no one else sees are so important. They keep you working on the inside.
This serves a second purpose. It keeps you sailing in line with the others around you. If you’re a busted up, rusty ship, you’ll be running into other ships and you’ll both get damaged.
Third, you all need to be headed in the same direction and to the correct destination. If you sail together, but you wind up in Mozambique when you were intended to wind up in Brazil, the passengers will be planning a mutiny with those shuffleboard implements. The metaphor breaks down when you reach the shuffleboard elements, but I think you know where I’m going with this.
Just as setting fire to your rubber duck in the house will damage ducks and relationships, our sin separates us from God, as well as doing other damage. At this point in the story, we have to replace a rubber duck, kitchen curtains, and pay for the damages to the stove, which I assure you our meager allowance will NOT cover. Not only that, but we have a smacked bottom coming, and believe you me: It is coming. Can there possibly be a happy ending?
If you were paying attention last time, you should have the hope that there can be. Your daddy loves you, and right now, that’s all you’ve got going for you, but between rubber ducks and getting grounded, it’s all you’re ever going to need.