2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Sin is an UGLY word.
We don’t even like using it. And if we do like using it we demote it to bad things we do, think and say. And although there is absolutely a moral component to sin, this can’t be it. Sin is real and it really does break our relationship with God.
Romans 3:23 (CEB)
“All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”
So what is Sin?
Sin is broken Shalom.
It is disturbing Shalom with God and others. What does that mean? When I was a kid I thought sin was confined to my personal choices. I thought I was sinning when I had a certain thought when I was watching a certain show. Or I thought I was sinning when I lost my temper with my brother. And although I could have been sinning while doing those things, I had a very narrow view of sin.
It goes back to my narrow view of God. For most of my life, my relationship with God consisted of not doing bad things, trying to be nice to others, and having a prayer life with God. My spiritual life was used to create moral limits on my spiritual and emotional life. When I messed up, I would feel guilty, but God would forgive my sins and then the dance would begin again.
You may have experienced a similar path, and you may even have given up. Choosing to do whatever you want, because it doesn’t seem worth it.
I believe the reason we live in this cycle is because our view of God and sin are far too small. In 2 Chronicles we see God speaking to the Israelites. He proclaims they should “turn from their wicked ways”. I always thought the Bible was talking about my own personal ways. It’s broader than that. God is calling us as a people to give up “our wicked ways”. Not just our personal sins, but also where we are complicit with social, economic, and broad general sins.
Churches all over the world thought slavery was acceptable and Christians even had slaves. Many have story after story of why this was okay, but the church was guilty in their participation of a social sin. A broken world and our sinful nature keep social forms of sin alive.
We focus on sin as an individual problem because that’s the part of sin that is easier to wrap our head around. But what about the ways that you participate in social sins?
Here’s an example: You would never steal from another person. But, we don’t think to look at the shady business dealings companies we buy from use that could be stealing from their stock holders and employees.
This seems impossible, how are we to get rid of every situation like this in our lives. The answer is not to become hyper vigilant, but to just be aware of what systems we may be a part of and when we do see something we know is wrong, we don’t turn a blind eye to the situation.
Jesus is restoring the whole world. And he’s doing that through you and me. As a restored people, God is moving us back to Shalom. To do that we have to look not just at our individual sin, but also where we are guilty of hurting others.
- Pastor Philip
What social sins might you be guilty of?