Tag Archives: sin

The Prodigal Son, Re-revisited

I was in the process of rewriting my “About Me” page on Spiritual Drift, and I came across a few things I’d written in the past, including my belief on hell. I decided not to include any of that there (yet), but instead, I wanted to write something here about my beliefs; first off, on whether (or if) we are born “sinners.”
Well…
No; I no longer believe we are born sinners. And I certainly don’t believe we are born sinners in the hands of an angry God.
If anything, we are born, lost.
In fact…
Maybe we wake up, and maybe we find ourselves with a case of amnesia. Confused and alone. In a pig’s sty of all places. Surrounded by slop. Dirty. Aching. Scared. Hungry. Looking even at the cobs the pigs eat and wishing we could somehow fill our own bellies.
Then, we look up, across the waters, to see a small town on the other shore. Somewhere, in the back of our minds, we recognize that place. We don’t know how, we don’t know why, but somehow we just know; that village is “home.”
Maybe it’s because we feel a tug, a yearning in our chest, in our hearts and deeper still. Urging us on. Pulling us toward that place.
To “home.”
Not all of us will heed that call though.
Some will raise their eyes and look across the waters but feel, even though we are not sure where we are, why or even how we got here, it must have something to do with there, with that place, even if we recognize it as “home.” And our mind is torn: Either sorrow and shame eat away our hope, and we end up feeling we no longer deserve to return, or; even if we could, anger and bitterness arise: Whoever is there must be responsible for why we are here; and though we remain unsure of where we are, here must surely be better than there.
But, for those of us who do rise—those who see hope in the distance and let it live—we will round the waters of the vast lake and, eventually, reach the horizon, unsure of what we will say or even who will greet us. We will prepare our speeches, our prayers of forgiveness and penance, chanting them over and over again, trying to hold the guilt and fear at bay until our throat is raw and our mind aches.
Then, we see a figure cresting the horizon, rushing toward us, arms outstretched.
Are they friend or enemy?
Are we the enemy? Will we be allowed to say our prayers? Will they be heard? Will our penance be enough?
Before we can even decide, the figure descends, wrapping us in His arms.
Fear grips us and yet…
His grip is stronger.
His delight is clear.
His laughter rings in our ears.
His tears of joy stream down His cheeks and onto our bare, dirt-caked shoulder.
He calls us “son”, and “daughter.”
He takes us by the hand and leads us inside.
He says we are honored guests. In fact, He orders a feast in our honor.
He calls us “son, and “daughter.” Is this our Father?
No, it can’t be: To dare and dream that we come from such splendor, such joy, such warmth?
No.
We came from the muck and mire of a pig’s sty. We know nothing more.
We believe we are filth and yet He calls us royalty.
We believe we are alone and yet He calls us family.
He insists, we are “son”; we are “daughter.”
And we are welcome.
We are honored.
We are family.
Long forgotten is our speech, our prayer, our forgiveness and penance.
It was never needed.
It was never asked.
The only thing asked was our presence, our return, our willingness to come, to heed the pull in our hearts, to choose “home”, and to accept that we are, and always have been, loved.
To accept that we were born royalty, that we were born family, that we were not born pigs, but born “sons”, and “daughters”. That we were, are, and always will be, loved.

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Question: Just What Exactly Is Sin?

My friend Nate, from the insightful, agnostic/atheistic blog “Finding Truth” gave me the following comment (one of many 🙂 ) in response to my post “A Discussion of Free Will”.  Though I answered him in a follow-up reply, and I’ve expanded on some of our discussions before, I thought this was a great comment to begin and/or further a dialog on.  Please feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts below:

It’s interesting to think about how Adam and Eve could sin prior to receiving the “knowledge of good and evil,” which is what the fruit supposedly gave them.

It is interesting.  Because that is exactly what happened.   In this case–the instance of “original sin”–the very definition of sin is stretched beyond the parameters of simply “knowledge of good and evil”; touching on our God-given ability to choose, the freedom and consequences of freewill, and why–since before we were even created–God’s plan included a “savior”.

Ephesians 1Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (NLT)

Regardless of whether or not a choice itself is inherently good or evil, could sin also be defined as knowing what is the right or proper thing to do in a given situation, and choosing otherwise?   After all, the fall of man was Adam’s doing, not Eve’s.  Eve was led into temptation; Adam freely disobeyed God by, instead, following the lead of his wife.

In a paper written by Rabbi Jeffery Leynor, its noted that the three most often used words in the Hebraic bible to denote ‘sin’ are:

  • The root HT (Het): which occurs 459 times and the original meaning of the verb HATA: “to miss” something, or “to fail.”  It signifies a failure of mutual relations and corresponds to the modern idea of “offense” rather than the theological concept of “sin.”  One who fulfills the claims of a relationship or an agreement is righteous, ZADDIQ; one who does not, offends, fails, or misses the mark.  This is essentially what Adam did in the Garden.
  • The root PESH which occurs 136 times and is also found in the early texts of Genesis and Exodus. Its basic meaning is that of the “breach of a covenant.”  Acts of this type are said to dissolve the community or break the peaceful relations between two parties, as in cases involving international treaties.  Or, in Biblical terms, the covenant between God and His people, Israel.
  • And finally, the word AVON (meaning “crookedness”) which, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary, is the main Hebrew word for “iniquity” and describes perversion or depravity of actions causing the ‘sinful’ person to become crooked rather than straight.

It is my belief that the choice Adam made–though it was indeed sin (HATA)–on its own merits was neither good nor evil.  I imagine Adam’s thought process went something like, “I’ve lost her anyway.  I can’t live without her.  I can’t stand the thought of her suffering alone.  I might as well do the same thing . . .”

It’s that same thought process that leads us as well—ever so slowly—away from God.  There’s any number of things on any given day that we feel—no, that we know—we “can’t live without”.  God may be somewhere in there but, if we’re honest, rarely is he the first “thing”.

Adam chose to follow his wife, openly disobeying what God personally told him. (At least Eve could have the excuse of, “Well, I think this is what Adam told me that God told him . . .”) Adam’s eternal sin was committed before his bite from the forbidden fruit was ever taken.  Finally, it was sealed when he tried to shift the blame for his actions . . . to God himself. (“It was the woman YOU gave me.”)

What the snake did was evil; what Adam did was ‘miss the mark’, then further complicate things by guilt, shame, hiding, denial, pride, on and on (of which, these thoughts and emotions may very well have been the result of the “knowledge of good and evil”): thus breaking the covenant relationship with his Creator . . . .

Genesis 3:23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

. . . . A relationship that we later have the ability to choose to restore, through a new covenant, and a new “Adam” . . .

1 Corinthians 15:45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

Romans 7:25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

A Mosaic of Little Events….

discipline of grace“Life is largely a mosaic of little events and little deeds.  It is the decision we make when the cashier at the supermarket gives us too much change, or the waiter at the restaurant understates our bill, that reveals whether we are honest or not.  It may seem as if I tend to trivialize life by frequently using illustrations of sins that some consider not too big an issue.  But the truth is, it is in the minutiae of life where most of us live day after day.  We seldom have to say ‘no’ to an outright temptation to adultery.  We often have to say ‘no’ to the temptations to the lustful look or thought.

~ From the book “The Discipline of Grace” by Jerry Bridges (pg. 15)