The primary issue of humanity is that we have been disconnected from God.
There is a separation and division in the relationship between man and God.
What was once whole and united has now been fractured and broken.
That is what sin is (but don’t run for the doors just yet)!
What if I told you that 80% of the time the word sin is used in the New Testament it is used as a noun and the other 20% of the time it is used as a verb?
Would that be shocking to you?
It was shocking to me because the predominant usage of the word sin in our churches and among Christians has been as a verb which we use to describe naughty little behaviors that we do. And as we have focused on sin primarily as a verb…we have unfortunately created hierarchies (or degrees) of sin.
For instance, we might view one’s infidelity to his/her spouse as a graver sin than taking some ink pens from his/her employer for personal use at home. Or, we might view murder as a more egregious sin than telling a lie.
The unfortunate consequence of creating these hierarchies of sin is how it causes us to see and categorize people. As we categorize people based upon the “degree of sin” or their degree of “worthiness” …it further creates categories and divisions between ourselves and others. Doing this makes us quite good at elevating ourselves and creating “we vs. they” categories that influence how we talk about and relate to people. In our superior position we can extend grace and love to people on a very conditional basis that is based upon another person’s merit or worthiness…and it can lead to us being very judgmental.
And all this because we have focused and talked about sin more as a verb than a noun.
Maybe that is because sin as a verb is a more comfortable place to be. We can insulate ourselves from “bad” people and “unworthy” people. Focusing on sin primarily as a verb can make a person or a group of people think of themselves in a more self-righteous manner…as if they have done something remarkable to sin less or become more worthy or become better than other people.
But if we understood sin primarily as a noun we would see that it is a place in which we find ourselves. It is a place and position that is disconnected from the true Source of Life which results in the action or behavior that is less than godly. It is a place and position that falls short of God’s glory.
But even more, if we understood sin primarily as a noun (or as a place and position in which we find ourselves) we would recognize very quickly that we ALL stand in the same place. We are ALL disconnected from the Source. There can be no hierarchy of bad behavior or worthiness…because it is not about the action but about the position. We ALL fall short. Read it again…ALL. And when we all are reoriented in how we understand sin (primarily as a place and position) it will have a profound impact on how we relate to other people in the same position.
When we finally realize that we are all in the same place we can begin to move from a place of “we vs. they” to a place of just “we.” We can begin to move from the hierarchical mindset of sin and worthiness to the place of general unworthiness. And we can also begin to move from a place of being quite conditional in extending our grace and love to other people based upon their perceived merit or worth to a place of extending unconditional grace and love despite the person or the action. It is in this place where we realize that the grace and love that God extends to we who are unworthy…is the same grace and love we can now extend to each other. That is a place of beauty and breakthrough.
The great accomplishment of God through Jesus is that grace and love were extended to all of us despite our position in order to unite and bring back together that which has been separated and broken. There is nothing we can do to earn it…and it is not based upon merit or worthiness. There is not one of us who can claim to be better or more righteous than another. All we can do is receive it…and then unconditionally extend it.
“One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” 2 Corinthians 5: 14-20 (The Message)