Saturday, May 28, 2011

Let's Get Rid of the Word "Sin"

It’s time to face reality. This word has lost all functional meaning in postmodern society. When people hear it now, it connotes one of several unintended definitions. For many it’s nothing more than irrelevant religious jargon flung about to promote judgmentalism as in, “You’re just tryin’ to guilt me, man. Who are you to tell me how I should live my life?” Then there is the titillating definition of sin. Sin is secret pleasure, something you enjoy and the fact that others think it’s wrong makes it all the sweeter. When you sin you’re cutting-edge and part of a secret club of cool, hip, sick (or whatever your cliché) people. I think for most postmoderns, especially those under thirty, the word “sin” doesn’t mean anything at all. It flies right over their heads.

I have heard countless preachers and Bible teachers try to define sin so that people could really understand the seriousness of it. They’ve gone back into the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible. They’ve used illustrations. I’ve done all of that myself. It isn’t working. There is no traction here. The sin tire is bald. So I suggest that we drop the word altogether and replace it with one that really communicates what sin is. Instead of sin, let’s use the word shit.

I know there are many sweetie-pie Christians who will cringe at this word. These are the nice people who think Jesus is just all about huggy relationships. Thomas Kinkade is their kind of artist. They love the gagging syrupy treacle of so-called Christian “worship” music. They want their religion full of positive, inspiring, feel-good language. And the word shit just doesn’t feel good. It’s ugly, filthy and offensive, right out of the gutter. Certainly, we wouldn’t want to offend people by using it in our lily-pure churches. We wouldn’t want to describe the actions of men like the Reverend Ted Haggard, the Reverend Eddie Long and a host of others as shit. Most of all, I don’t want to characterize my little harmless indiscretions as shit.

But let me tell you something, shit communicates. To see what I mean, let’s try it in some well-known Bible verses (with apologies to the New International Version):

How about the story of the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus? John 8:6-11 - But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you doesn’t have any moral and spiritual shit in his life let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of moral and spiritual shit."

Romans 6:23 - For the end result of all our moral and spiritual shit is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 1-3 - Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of moral and spiritual shit and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by our shit-filled nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of shit-filled man to be an offering for all the moral and spiritual shit that we have committed.

1 John 1:5-10 - This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all our moral and spiritual shit. If we claim to be without moral and spiritual shit, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our filthy shit, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our moral and spiritual shit and purify us from all our filth. If we claim we have not committed such shit, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Did that offend you? I make no apology.

When I was a teenager I had a friend who worked part-time at our town’s sewage treatment plant. He gave me a tour. During the tour, he told me about a guy who fell into a huge vat full of shit. Probably the story is apocryphal, but as I stood in front of such a vat while he told it, I was impressed. Anyway, my friend said they pulled the guy out and cleaned him off, but it didn’t do any good. He died of infection.

Here’s the message of the Bible: Sin isn’t just some trite judgmental term or some titillating little secret pleasure. It really is deadly moral and spiritual shit and unless something is done about it it sticks on you forever killing you slowly with a thousand infections.

Just imagine walking around every day of your life covered with shit. You wreak to high heaven and you’re dying, but you refuse to accept that fact. You think everything is cool. If you do detect a slight odor you cover it up with the perfume of an occasional good deed or positive thought. All that does is make you smell like a two-dollar whore with dysentery. That’s how we look and smell to a totally clean and Holy God.

One of the reasons we ignore our shit is because the whole world is filled with shit-covered people and we think we smell better than most, so we’re fine. Do you disagree with that? If so, what planet are you living on? If we’re honest we know we’re not cleaner than anybody else. We fit right in because we’ve done lots of bad shit to ourselves and others. So no lazy-ass excuses!

Well, here’s a “duh” question: If you’re covered with shit what do you need? That’s right, A BATH. A good hot bath will wash away physical shit (assuming you haven’t sucked it into your body like the guy at the treatment plant), but it won’t do anything for moral and spiritual shit. That’s the amazing part of God’s story. He loved us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus into this shit-filled wreaking world. (Would you send your son to swim in one of those vats?) And why did He do it? To pull us out and wash us clean so we wouldn't have to die forever. Our soul-shit can be washed clean only by the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross.

But here’s the warning: If you don’t think you need that blood bath to wash the shit off your soul, if you think everything is cool and you smell great, you will never get into Heaven because shit-covered people aren’t allowed there. And it’s logical. Would you want a shit-covered person for a roommate?

The question is how honest are you? If you know that you’re covered with shit and you can’t stand your own wreaking smell (believe me, I’ve been there), if you’re sick of it and you long to be clean, God is waiting for you to tell Him that and ask for a clean new life. He can do it, He WILL do it, because He’s God and He loves you - even covered in a thick coat of nasty brown. So how long are you going to stay this way? Get a bath before you die, because then it’s too late.

© Coleman Luck 2011. www.colemanluck.com Free to be reproduced (if you dare) with proper attribution including website. (For pity’s sake, you don’t want anybody to think you wrote this.)

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