I’ve been writing a lot about sin this week. Sin is a word that makes many of us cringe, but it’s one that I believe we’ve greatly misunderstood and holds a key to our liberation as humans.
It blew me away when I discovered that the Jesus-as-human-shield interpretation isn’t the only option. There is a multitude of different theological interpretations of the crucifixion, but this is the one that our mainstream evangelical culture has latched onto.
It’s not the one I’ve chosen to focus on, personally. As I’ve said before, I don’t think the idea of us owing Jesus something for stepping in front of his angry dad in order to save us from sin does anyone any good (however, to each their own — if it serves you well, stick with it and close this post).
[If you’re getting triggered by the word ‘sin’, click here to read an earlier post of mine where I provided some context about a different (?) way to look at the word.]
I don’t believe that Jesus’s mission was about sin management. His work as a radical Hebrew mystic didn’t consist of blaming sinners. I’ve never heard of him telling anyone to ‘work their way to the top’ and be status quo, law-following citizens. If anything, he was constantly questioning our societal norms — especially when it came to the dominant power structure of his day (which still lingers in the human story today).
Jesus gravitated towards those who society deemed as ‘sinners’ and was labeled a ‘drunkard’, a ‘glutton’ and worse for it (again, I think that a lot of people in Jesus’s day would’ve pegged him as a sinner himself — do your own research/follow your own heart on this and please don’t take my word for it).
It seems to me that Jesus’ work was to reveal that we all are sinners.
He looked at those (particularly in power) who felt justified through their good and so-called ‘good’ works as almost a waste of time. Like they might be too far into their own self-righteousness to see that they aren’t any better or more justified than the beggar, the widow, the orphan, or the leper.
But here’s a distinction we have to see…
His intention wasn’t mass condemnation, but rather, mass forgiveness.
Since we can only condemn what’s outside of us, we must own up to our own sin in order to find the compassionate forgiveness it takes to allow God to heal ourselves, each other, and our world.
(To live in the kingdom of God, as he typically put it.)
It’s never just about ‘their’ sins.
And it’s never just about our sins.
It’s all a continuum.
May we embrace and enfold the sinner in ourselves,
As well as the sinner in our neighbor.
Christ, save us from each other,
And save us from ourselves.