16 February 2005

Speaking of Sin

It is all around us. At every turn, in every corner and in every place, high or low, sin is present in our world. It is easy to see its effects in the world around us if we’d just pay attention long enough to hear the voices of those being crushed under its oppressive force. In Africa, H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. are killing young people by the hundreds of thousands. In the Sudan, Muslims are slaughtering Christians, and Christians are returning the favor. The genocide is rooted in their tribal narratives- each is convinced that the other one initiated the mass murder. Each tribe is convinced God is on there side. Russia still hasn’t recovered from the painful transition of Communism to Democracy. For many, life has gotten worse. In China, it is estimated that there are close to 6 million missing women since the government sanctioned limit to children went into place. In other eastern countries, women are abandoned, aborted, or sold into sex slavery rather than be raised in the family in which they were conceived.

If we look a little closer to home, we know the consuming nature of sin. We’ve experienced it first hand. For some, institutional racism has gone underground making it more dangerous than fifty years ago. For others, life in a family of alcoholics has killed every ounce of life left after a childhood of broken dreams and broken bones. Nashville, the alleged belt buckle of the Bible belt, is one of the most racially divided cities in America. White, Black, Hispanic, and Middle Easterners know which part of the city is theirs, which schools, which neighborhoods, in which churches they are welcome. Sin is everywhere. If we’d just look, we would see it staring us right back in the eyes.

But we don’t have to go looking for sin do we? There’s enough messiness and rebellion in our churches at this very moment to talk about for ages. In the name of religion, many of you have been dehumanized and in the name of particular arrogance we have returned the favor. “Some of the worst things that will happen to you in life will either come from your physical family or church family,” (William Willomon).

Does the gospel have the power to transform this dark reality?