Reclaiming the Biblical Doctrine of Sin
There is a need today for the Christian church to return to a clear affirmation of the bible’s teaching about sin. It simply won’t do to be vague and unclear about these things. The truth about sin is –
No, wait, hold on. There are lots of important things to say here, but there’s a decent chance that someone reading this is thinking that this is all about a list of sinful activities, which things are on the list and which aren’t. That’s really not the primary concern at this point.
As I see it the larger concerns are answering more fundamental questions. What does it mean to sin? What is a sinner? What is justice? How just is God?
Did I really list “what is justice” as one of the questions? You bet. America’s concept of justice is emaciated, it’s just skin and bones. If we stopped random people on the street and asked them to tell us what justice is, they’d struggle to flesh out the concept. And why not? The whole culture is starving. I don’t mean they are hungry. I mean they are wasting away for lack of knowledge.
The church needs to be active in this area. Frankly, the alternative is unthinkable. The alternative is to leave the world to its own (and Satan’s) devices. That’s a terrible thing on many levels. First, we Christians must live in the world for some unknown period of time. Do we want to live in a world with little to no concept of justice? Second, our non-Christian neighbors surely deserve some consideration. Jesus said we ought to love our neighbors. Do we want them to live in a world without justice? Do we want them to live unjustly themselves? Third, our Christian witness in this world suffers if we are silent about such things.
We are called to be the light of the world and that emphatically includes teaching our neighbors about justice. Being the light of the world means (among other things) illuminating right and wrong. It means shedding light on why right is right and wrong is wrong. Christians should be teaching their neighbors about justice. We should teach by example and also by actually talking.
If we’re going to talk, we’ll need to know what to say. We’re going to have to start thinking (and praying, and reading) about justice. Except we already do think about justice, don’t we? We think about fat cats on Wall Street, and crooked politicians. Heaven help us, we think about lawyers. But we often think of justice in the terms by which the world frames it. We tend not to think about the injustice of slavery as a Christian would, instead we tend to think of it as a 21st century American would. What would a fully-formed Christian worldview have to say about the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the Affordable Care Act, or the minimum wage? If you’re like me you have the sneaking suspicion that there’s a pretty big difference between the concept of justice in 21st century America and the concept of justice as it exists in the mind of Christ.
We are ambassadors for Christ. We are to be a window into heaven for the unsaved in our generation. The wisdom, glory and, yes, justice of Christ is impressive. Let’s give the world a better look. The more facets of Christ’s brilliance that we can show the world, the better. He’s a wonderful savior to me, and part of the wonder is wondering at his justice.