So What the Hell Do We Do With Sin?

Last year, I was asked to give a talk to a youth group about sin. That’s all the prompting I was given so when I asked for a little bit more direction, I was told, “You know, just talk about the bad things we do and how God wants us to be good.” *Insert defeated sigh here…* I think we have a really big problem when it comes to talking about sin. If we talk about sin as simply the bad things we do, then the church is relegated to nothing more than the morality police. And no one wants that. So I’m going to say that we need to seriously reconsider how we view sin, and I think the results can actually be incredibly life-giving. In short, here’s what I’m saying.

Sin is not the bad things we do, but a broken reality in which we live.

If we think about the story of Adam and Eve, the sin in that story is not that Adam and Eve at the apple (the bad thing they did) but it’s that they violated the boundary of the relationship between them and God. Sin, then, becomes the tragic reality in which we live, the reality of a violated and broken relationship, rather than a continuous string of bad things that we do.

Is this a sometimes uncomfortable way to look at things? Absolutely. You know why it’s so uncomfortable? Because it openly acknowledges that we are finite beings who are one day going to die.

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that “when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” This is why this view of sin can be so uncomfortable. When we think of sin this way, we look into the abyss of our impermanence. And the discomfort comes from the eyes of our impermanence looking back into us.

This is why one of the last scenes in “Garden State” sticks out to me so much. The scene of the three characters screaming down into the abyss is a perfect picture of how we cope with the tragic reality of our sin. We scream in the face of the abyss because it’s all we can do. We can’t run. The abyss will catch us. So we scream into the abyss for the release of knowing that, for now, we exist.

That’s where I’m at right now. We need to change the way we understand sin so that we can move forward past the morality police. But where we go from there is anyone’s guess. What do you think we do with this? Is it completely ridiculous? How do you think we can move forward?

I guess I’ll end by wishing each of us luck exploring the infinite abyss. Good luck!


Please keep your comments positive. I reserve the right to delete rude or insulting comments. If your comment is critical, please make sure it is also constructive. Thank you.

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