by Christopher Harbin

Our Sin Problem
Christopher B. Harbin
Exodus 25:17-22; Mark 2:1-12

The church has a history of bashing other people because of sin. We have a penchant for pointing fingers at others, even while we hide our own issues from the limelight. There are issues with that history, but none of them are more flagrant than the fact that such attitudes are very far from the attitudes we see in Jesus Christ. Jesus by no means promoted sin, yet he was not nearly as condemnatory as the church has been over the centuries. I would posit that we have a problem with sin, but it is not the problem you might expect. Our problem with sin is that it is our problem, not God's.

We have inherited an image of God that shows up in some Biblical texts, but is not really the central picture of God presented in the Bible at all. We have pictured God as a heavy-handed, angry being who passes out condemnation and fierce wrath with little consideration of human failure and limitations. If God were truly so fierce, condemnatory, and vindictive, the human race would hardly have lasted past the time of Jesus, much less into the realities of the Crusades, the New World conquests of Spain and Portugal, the transatlantic slave trade days, and the world wars of the Twentieth Century. Ancient Israel understood that much better than we seem to grasp it. That is why the Psalms are filled with references to Yahweh as being long-suffering, patient, slow to anger, and quick to act with mercy.

It would seem that our basic theological constructs of God have much more to do with the Greek myths of Homer than with Biblical perspectives on Yahweh's mercy and penchant for forgiveness. We see God as vindictive an unpredictable as Zeus, Thor, or the deities of Egypt, rather than as Yahweh presented by the prophets or the Abba demonstrated by Jesus. It would seem that the distinction comes from our projections of ourselves upon God. As we are finite, as we tend to change our minds, as we often bow to pressures ...

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