When we are young we need rules even though we cannot fully comprehend the reason for these rules. Our parents instruct us in basic human interaction and safety. Still, I thought it was a terrible miscarriage of justice when I was not able to retrieve my ball from the middle of the street. My parents seemed mean, and I did not want to listen to them. I would only learn later that my parents made rules that placed a greater value on my life than on my possessions.
Children rebel against their parents and really do not know why. Ultimately, the lure of their own way exceeds the faith they have in their parents. They love their parents, but they want what they want, and they want it right NOW! They are not conscious of the “why” behind their rebellion.
I was raised in the church and have gone to church my entire life. I have heard thousands of sermons and read innumerable pages of Christian books. I went to school and even became a Pastor. I know this much to be true: sin is bad for me and others around me. Even with all the training and discipling, I know another truth: I still sin.
What is going on? Why does that happen? Experiencing these realities has driven people away from Christ. Many decide they simply cannot live up to the life Christ has prescribed. Others attempt to change the rules to make them easier. Some excel at following the rules, but are insufferable to be around.
Why is sin so bad, why do I sin, and what does my sin reveal about me? Most preaching focuses on one of two things: sin (stop sinning) or success (how to get it). What if both topics fall short of helping us actuallybecome more Christ-like, more Kingdom oriented?
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul wrote to a church that he helped plant. He was encouraged to find them living out their faith in spite of some societal persecution. In 1 Thessalonians 3:9, Paul speaks of filling in the “gaps in their faith”, then in chapter 4 he encourages them to love each other, and then to abstain from sin. When we communicate Christ to people we often get our priorities out of order.
We tend to focus most of our energy on abstaining from sin. However, what if we spent the majority of our time building each other up in faith in Christ Jesus? Furthermore, what if our sin is actually a signal of an area where our faith needs to find growth?
For example, fear dominates our culture, and it has infiltrated the church as well. Jesus told us in Matthew 6 that we are not to worry; yet we do. We worry for our nation, we worry for our children, we worry for the church, and anything else we can think of. Is not worry a great indicator of a lack of faith in Christ? Do we not know that Christ is strong enough and powerful enough to sustain His church through good times and bad? We tend to believe Christ is our entry point into Heaven (which he is), but he is much more than that.
Christ is the Lord of our now! Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven is
at hand, not that the Kingdom of Heaven is far off in distance and time. If we find ourselves worrying, we know we are struggling to trust Jesus, and we need to grow. Sin is a problem for many reasons, but one of them is because it reveals our lack of trust in him.
Jesus is the Messiah, the son of the living God, the first born of all creation. He lived, was murdered, destroyed death, and is coming back again. In the history of our world, space, and time, there is no one more worthy of our faith, hope, and trust. We, as his children, should trust him because he alone has the words of eternal life. He is greater than our passions, and stronger than our failings.