Sin Away, Dear Friends

102016_ARCHERY-751x325Are you a sinner?

There is a certain kind of Christianity that is obsessed with sin.  In those churches there is a lot of talk about miserable sinners and the way they go around sinning their miserable sins.  Sin is the problem, they say, and the solution is Jesus, who died on the cross to save us from sin so that when we die, instead of going to hell, we can go to heaven.

But Jesus doesn’t usually talk about it that way.

In the Greek New Testament, when Jesus begins to talk about sin it is most often hamartia, a word that means literally, “to miss the mark.”  The other words for sin are used infrequently, and usually in reference to those who are actively opposed to God’s purposes in the world.

I was thinking about this yesterday, when I was sitting in church and someone mentioned the word sin.  Suddenly, instead of seeing a church full of miserable sinners sinning their miserable sins, I saw a church full of archers pulling back their bows and taking aim at the bullseye in the center of a huge target (it wasn’t technically a vision, but when you have a good imagination it’s often hard to tell the difference).  Yes, some of them missed the mark.  In fact, most of them missed the mark.  But all of them were aiming toward the bullseye.

In this vision Jesus was not dying on a cross to save us from our sins, but standing there with us, cheering us on.  “Good try!” he said. “That was close!”  “Don’t give up!”  The problem was still sin, in that we kept missing the mark, but it didn’t seem nearly so miserable with Jesus there.  And sometimes someone actually hit the mark, and everybody cheered.

Especially Jesus.

Because in my experience church people are not miserable sinners sinning miserable sins: they are people, and often people who are doing their very best to be good people, and do what Jesus would want them to do.  Sure, they “miss the mark.”  We all do.  But at least they are trying to hit it.

And if those arrows are love, and the target is God’s kingdom, then sin away, dear friends.  We may not always hit the bullseye, but every arrow sent flying in the right direction brings us a little closer to Kingdom come.


4 thoughts on “Sin Away, Dear Friends

  1. Who exactly are these obsessed people and churches then, you don’t really say. You seem to criticize a large swath of Christianity, and perhaps even a number of CBF churches.

    I suppose by your definition you would have to say that the church of Jesus Christ has been obsessed with sin for millennia (and praising their Savior all the day long..). What is your basis then for saying they have gotten it wrong?

    Are you really rejecting Jesus went to the cross to save sinners/all of us who were at enmity with God?

    A pastor encouraging folks to sin away, even if it might only be to make a rhetorical point (right)? You don’t normally do that? Why wouldn’t you take the opportunity and audience you have to instead emphasize and teach Romans 6 and 7, and also how to please God and avoid sin? It seems to me you have left out of the discussion how important it is in how people go about ‘hitting it’. [Do you believe people are basically good? A lot of clergy do, but I would argue Romans 3, the Gospel, and the Scriptures teach against that.].

  2. Thanks, George. I think you can tell that I was using a provocative approach to get people thinking about sin, but mostly to get them thinking about how they could contribute to the work of God’s kingdom. That was my goal. I don’t deny that there is plenty of sin in the world that needs to be dealt with. I thank God for Jesus and his willingness to do whatever it took (and whatever it takes) to deal with it.

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