Ever since I graduated from seminary, and thought about theological things in a serious way, I have sort of wrestled with the concept of "sin". Not the actual actions of sin - those of course, I struggle with like everybody else, but rather, what "sin" itself means. What is "sin" in actuality?
The list of theological thinkers on the subject of sin are numerous. The Greek New Testament notion of sin came from a word associated with archery target practice. HAMARTIA is the Greek word Paul uses for sin. HAMARTIA means, "to fall short." Sin is falling short. Luther viewed sin as a sort of; "beard that grows on my face. It is an inimical part of my being. Every time I try to extirpate my sin, it grows back." Paul Tillich, from an opposite camp of reason, thought of sin as "separation - from God, separation from others and separation from self." These are all good thoughts, but for whatever reason, they have not been particularly helpful for me, personally, as a way of understanding sin. I still wonder, what is "sin?" What does it mean - on a basic level.
Here's my latest big idea about what "sin" is. It has been very helpful to me, personally. Sin, simply put, is anything that we do to our selves (or others) that is destructive. Sin = Self Destructive Stuff. And what is it that we do to ourselves that is self destructive? Here's my short list, what's yours?
* Gossip (hurts our relationship with others, and therefore hurts us)
* Overeating/Drinking (obviously self destructive)
* Insecurities (brutal on our "sense of self")
* Being Negative (Negativity breeds negativity - so it burdens the self)
* Pride (puts too much pressure on self, self folds under pressure)
My list continues, but for the eyes of my blog-friends, I will spare you the details.
For whatever reason, this formulation is really helpful to me. So, for example, when Jesus says to the woman who was caught in adultery, "go and sin no more," he's really saying, "go and be self-destructive no more." When Jesus goes to Nicodemus' house, the house of a "sinner". And he says, "Today, salvation has come into this house", Jesus is really saying, "Today, I have helped Nicodemus become less self-destructive in his life." When we think about the fact that Jesus died for our sins, what we are really saying is, "Jesus died for our self-destructive tendencies." He literally died in order to stop the endless tide of our self-destructive natures.
Tomorrow morning, I am going to wake up and start my day by doing as few "self destructive" things as possible. I will keep you posted about my progress....:-)
All for Now,