Day 12: Sin and its Effects
Illustration: Juliana Crownover
Last week, we discussed what true righteousness was about. We observed that true righteousness is found in a relationship with God.
This week, we focus on the effects of sin. St. Augustine famously wrote that sin was “misplaced love.” We love bad things which we ought not to love and love good things the wrong way, thus corrupting them. Sex, money, power and fame can all be used for great good. But, more often than not, we become attached to them and use them for less-than-virtuous purposes. This is simply the human condition. This is the effect of sin.
Our full-throttled embrace of sin cannot make us happy for long. But, as we will discover this week, sin is also a destructive force in our churches, our families and our societies. Because of sin, we place a whole manner of structures around us to keep everything from falling apart. We then start to resent the structures and our leaders.
In Ephesians, Paul describes the Church as an entity that should be presented to God “without spot or wrinkle” (Eph 5.27). To Paul, the Church is the bride of Christ (2 Cor 11.2). Yet, because of sin, this is often not the reality we encounter. The Church becomes a place of backbiting, jealously, furious arguments, lawsuits and recriminations. We ought to be the shining beacon to the world on how to lead a better life. We ought to be the happy ones! Yet the Church often becomes a shriveled up wasteland of treachery and deceit. We are broken, divided, selfish and unloving.
Our families are similar. Christians divorce at roughly the same rates as the population. Abuse of alcohol and drugs has caused whole neighborhoods to become unlivable. And this breakdown in the family has hit those who are poor the hardest. According to the CDC, forty percent of all births in the US in 2013 occurred outside of marriage.[i] Yet, among African Americans seventy percent of births were outside marriage.[ii] Since the best predictor of poverty is a broken family, this aggressive deconstruction of the family has harmed whole communities.
Finally, our country becomes affected by sin, leading to the disillusionment we encounter with our leaders. Congress is dysfunctional. Money buys public policy, thus corrupting it. The Pew Research Center has found that moderates are a disappearing species from both the left and the right.[iii] The result is political polarization. More often than not, we come to see political opponents as less than human. Once again, this is the effect of sin.
This week, we will observe how sin lies at the root of our divisions. On Monday, we will observe how Jesus claims to be God, yet this claim becomes controversial both in Jesus’ day and ours. On Tuesday, we’ll observe how sin affects the Church and its authority structures. On Wednesday, we’ll observe how we are called to be servants and how powerful the image of a servant can be at reversing the effects of sin. On Thursday, we’ll explore the mystery of sin in how it affects the human heart, and on Friday we’ll see how betrayal affects whole communities. Finally, on Saturday, we we’ll observe how God somehow brings great good out of all this brokenness.
As ever in Lent, the answer to the effects of sin is repentance and humility. We should love others because Christ first loved us and gave himself up for us (Eph 5.2). Jesus did this even when we were unlovable. Jesus loved us enough to die for us. Our challenge is whether we’ll love Him enough to amend our lives so we can walk more closely with Him.
[i] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarried-childbearing.htm, Accessed 12-9-2015.
[iii] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/07/17/partisan-polarization-in-congress-and-among-public-is-greater-than-ever/, Accessed 12-9-2015