BREAKING NEWS… BREAKING NEWS… other people do stuff. Sometimes it is stuff I don’t like. Sin, for example.
What should I do about it?
‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’
So I don’t get to look down on someone, then, because they ‘break the rules’?
But where are these rules, anyway?
You’ll find some lists in the OT (e.g. Leviticus). Jesus himself refers to some, usually in response to the supposedly ‘law-abiding’… but the thing that people forget is that there are no exhaustive lists (and sometimes people say that something is a biblical sin, when actually it’s not even mentioned – but that’s an issue for another day).
There is no definitive list of sin that you can look at and put a tick beside to say ‘well, I don’t do that’ and pat yourself on the back. Even if there was a list, you could never tick all the boxes. Why? Because
anything less than love is sin.
Which is why all have sinned and fall short, etc. (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%203:21-27&version=NIVUK)
So instead of worrying about what is sin and what isn’t, perhaps we should do as Paul says in his loving letter to the Philippians:
‘…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.’
Julian of Norwich had some interesting words on this, too:
‘The soul that would preserve its peace, when another’s sin is brought to mind, must fly from it as from the pains of hell, looking to God for help against it. To consider the sins of other people will produce a thick film over the eyes of our soul, and prevent us for the time being from seeing the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’– unless, that is, we look at them contrite along with the sinner, being sorry with and for him, and yearning over him for God. Without this it can only harm, disturb, and hinder the soul who considers them… ‘
from Revelations of Divine Love
This doesn’t mean that sin doesn’t matter, but that I am responsible for myself, not anyone else (as explained here: https://justzoejustlife.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/937/).
Jesus knew how hard it can be for us, weak and fallen as we all are. It never changed his love for us. Not one micrometre. This is the bit I think we all struggle with. This is why we like to point fingers.
As he sat with his disciples, on the night that he was betrayed, knowing that Judas had already gone to tell the soldiers where to find him, Jesus spoke so tenderly to those who were left:
‘My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: where I am going, you cannot come.
‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
And then, instead of condemning Peter for his imminent sin (later that evening, Peter denied he even knew Jesus), instead of focusing on his dearest friend’s ultimate betrayal, which is surely going to be a priority in any list of sin (if there were such a thing), Jesus says:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me…’
Peter was reconciled to Jesus after the resurrection. And if Jesus never condemned Peter for letting him down, how can I possibly point the finger in accusation?
Incidentally, if you’re wondering how this relates to my earlier post https://justzoejustlife.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/here-am-i/, I think there is a need for a criminal justice system to protect society, and those who pose a threat should be removed. However, there is a difference between enacting the law and considering myself better than others. There is also a difference between recognition of the impact of crime, appropriate punishment (especially when it creates trauma or lifelong consequences), and revenge or retribution. I might write a post about forgiveness one of these days, too.