Fire Words Week: Sin

We love to talk about it.  C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters as an examination of it. Milton and Dante both took it through epic poems. Speaking of Milton, watch Al Pacino’s role in The Devil’s Advocate and you’ll see one of the best monologues on it in any movie.

Sin is an interesting topic and it is oh so easy to point fingers.

Sin is right in our wheelhouse, right over the plate.  It is the fastball we can hit with a quick turn of phrase or scripture.  We think we have it planned and played out.

We could never be more wrong.

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When society gets hold of the concept of sin, they visualize the fanatics at the Westboro Baptist Church protesting funerals with their hate speech. They believe that the church is closed to those struggling because of issues and lifestyle choices. They become the lepers of Biblical times, content to stand outside the walls and live their lives.

We are called to rip down the walls.

I believe we are all works in progress.  Our salvation is complete when we are called home. Until then, we are here taking things a day at a time.  We are not perfect and the first direction our accusations should fly is at ourselves.

Sin is pervasive. It is in the church just as it is in society. I’ve written before that it can be a window and a mirror.

Our answer stands in Jesus, in perfect and radical love.  It is in the arms of those willing to embrace the ones who need it.  It is providing comfort and warmth to everyone.

Sin is a window, mirror, and a door. It opens us to community, faith, love, humility, and acceptance. We all can handle it better as a family than we can on our own.

Family is the bottom line. It is the revolution that can change things and help us cool off the fire surrounding the concept of the church and sin.

~Matt

Worship Music Inspiration:

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The Struggle of Grace

Val sent me a text message this afternoon at work.  It said that she was sick over a child abuse case in the news that was going around Facebook.  I try to avoid the news in general but, in a slow afternoon, I decided to look it up.

In a trailer home just outside Coatesville, PA, three-year old Scotty McMillan was beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend. The abuse happened over a few days and started when Scotty refused to eat his breakfast.  Local news coverage is here.  I’ll warn you, the details are enough to give you nightmares.  Authorities stated it was the most severe case of abuse they had ever seen.

So the child’s mother and her boyfriend are both facing murder charges.  The prosecutor has said he will ask for the death penalty.

Is he right?

As someone who follows Christ, I stumble over grace.  We know the concept. We understand forgiveness and redemption. It is freely given for those willing to take it.  We talk with friends, life groups, peers, and family members and nod with sage understanding.  Yes, grace.  Grace.  Grace for all!

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Then this happens.

As a father, my heart burns with a desire to see punishment. Look up the news article and you’ll see pictures of Scotty.  He was a beautiful, innocent boy who did not deserve to be tortured.  As a man, I want justice.  Child abusers are monsters in the purest form.  No child deserves physical violence.

It is a philosophical tug of war.

The Bible tells us, forgive seventy times seven, don’t let the sun set on your anger, love your neighbor. We tell ourselves such trite lines as hate the sin, not the sinner, patting ourselves on the back for being a solid judge of character and putting ourselves in a position of power, not humility.

We jump on our pedestals and hold grace high above those who need it.

I guess I’m not there yet. I feel more like Peter, ready to pull his sword and strike at the threat against Jesus. It is a walk, a battle, and a process.

Scotty has returned to his true home in the hands of his Creator.  He’s running and playing in a paradise greater than anything on this planet.  He is finally safe. His mother and her boyfriend will pay for their crimes. Their sin will be judged.  Maybe some out there can forgive these people.

I want Scotty to have not died without a purpose.  I want his killers to face justice, in this world and the next.  I want one parent reading the news coverage to hesitate the next time they feel angry enough to raise their hands against their children. These horrific events can create a ripple effect across the world.

Grace makes for a great sermon topic, book, and podcast. We can talk a good game but, can we live it?  When we face true evil, how do we respond?

No one is perfect.  We have our own scars and we are works in progress.  The first step is recognition, as anyone in AA knows. One day our lives will end and we will fully understand grace, we will meet Scotty in heaven, we will be new creations.

Until then, the struggle continues.  What if it was a little boy you knew and loved? The imperfect man in me wants retribution for Scotty’s death.

And I’m okay with that.

~Matt

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