Sin seems to be a part of the Christian message.
Some Christians seem to talk about sin more than they talk about God. They sum up the gospel message as ‘Jesus died for our sins’. That is the essence of the message conveyed so very well by the Four Signs and is an important element in the Holy Communion Service. But is that all there is? No.
Why have I not mentioned sin in any of my accounts of my journey?
I am simply telling it the way I remember it. When I came to faith, I did not have any sense of sin. I was not conscious of that I was afraid of eternal – or even temporary – punishment. If I was afraid of anything, I was afraid of living a lie. The lie that God does not exist. I was looking for truth not forgiveness, or the answer to some personal problem. Sorry to disappoint those who think religion is a mere crutch. It is a crutch, because none of us is whole, but not a mere crutch. Sin was not even the big issue for me when people challenged me as to the reality of my relationship with God.
Is sin not important in my understanding of the gospel?
It is now. But it is still only part of it. God is bigger than we often think. I became aware of sin about nine months after I had made a decision to follow Jesus. Some friends played a practical joke on me and I took it badly. I really lost it. Although I felt bad afterwards, I was still angry, but I knew it wasn’t right. We all know that love is an essential feature of the Christian life. I was upset and went to see a friend, Kevin, who had been a Christian for a few years and I looked up to him.
How did I deal with sin when I first became aware of it?
My friend said my anger and bitterness were examples of sin, but Jesus could deal with it. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says he is The Way, the Truth and the Life. Kevin said that Jesus is the Way because he doesn’t just tell us what to do but gives us the way to do it. I had to ask, admit I was wrong and say I wanted to be right. It worked. I don’t know how. God knows. But I was able to forgive the others because I knew God had forgiven me. That was not the first or last time I got angry or did anything wrong. It was the first time I let God deal with it.
Do I think sin is an important issue?
Yes. Sin prevents you being who God intends you to be and it hurts others. It also hurts God. He wants to deal with it. He can and will. Trust God. However, we don’t all follow the same journey. I became aware of sin only after I had made a decision to become a Christian. For some, it comes first. Don’t copy me or anyone else. Be yourself and let God deal with you in the way that is right for you.