Sin, Genetics & Spiritual Exercise
I'm back on my diet. For the past couple of months, I've eaten and drunk like there's no tomorrow--only there always was a tomorrow, and it arrived to find me needing to lose twenty pounds.
I suppose it would be easy just to chalk up my struggles to bad genetics and use that as an excuse for my rotten habits. It is easy, to be honest, because I've used that excuse for long stretches of time.
It's also easy to fall into despair, and live in a funk when you realize your life won't be exactly like you wish it could be because you're going to have to watch what you eat and drink for the rest of your days. Oh, and you might have to also exercise--a lot.
I think that many of the problems that Christians struggle with are connected to something similar. There's this idea that pervades most of Christian teaching about sin that needs some deeper thought.
I'm talking about the idea that we all inherited some sort of "sin gene" that we can't do anything about. According to this teaching, God looks at us and sees only our bad genetics, and because God is holy, God can't abide it at all.
So the remedy for this sin gene is to accept the notion that in order to be able to look at us without anger again, God killed Jesus to "cover" us and make us clean.
There's a few problems with this simplistic teaching. First, it seems to ignore one of the basic tenets of the Christian faith: The Trinity. You see, Jesus IS God in the flesh. Jesus' full humanity was permeated with the full divinity of God.
So, it wasn't an angry God appeasing God's sense of justice through the Cross--it was God willingly going to the Cross to show us the extent to which God would go to get what God wants. And what God wants is to redeem, restore and resurrect.
And that reveals the second problem with the whole "sin gene" argument: If I buy into the whole idea of a sin gene, then it's also way too easy for me to use it to excuse my bad behavior, or to fall into despair because I am always going to be fighting it.
Christians need to learn that being created in "the image of God" means that we are permeated with God DNA. We have the inherent potential for beautiful, pure and lovely expressions of true humanity that need to be expressed outwardly to the whole world.
Sin is a contagion, to be sure, but it's not our true nature.
Because, when we finally and truly see the depths of God's love for us through Jesus' dying on the Cross... that's a moment of truth when faith demands an action to express it. In other words, our response to faith cant be an intellectual exercise it should be expressed in both inward and outward signs of transformation.
May you embrace your true humanity in Jesus Christ today and every day. May you live into the hope of the God DNA permeating your very being. May you know that you are loved and meant to show love in return.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.