LECTIONARY PASSAGE: Romans 5: 12-19
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
As I watch the news coverage of the tsunami wave rolling across the earth, I am at this moment somewhat painfully aware of how interdependent this whole of Creation is. The beginnings of an earthquake are probably considered almost nothing, something that on the surface doesn’t even matter at all. And yet what begins as a shift in the depths of the earth, something that seemingly is nothing more than a veritable sigh, releases a force that shakes the earth at is very core, taking life with it, and then sending its waves far beyond itself, to lands that it barely knows. By the time it gets to our country’s western coast in a few hours, it will have pulled all of humanity and all of Creation into its deadly force. And when it is finally snared by a stretch of calm, peaceful flatlands, its wake will contain pieces of lives that will never be the same again.
In our lectionary epistle this week, Paul mentions sin or some form of it (sinner, transgression, disobedience, etc.) sixteen times by my count. In fact, five of the mentions are in the first sentence! Do you think he was trying to make a point? Sin, I’m afraid, is a fact of life. It is part of all us. We claim that perhaps our own sins are not that bad. You’ve heard all the claims and the questions: So, if I don’t KNOW I’m sinning, is it really sin? So which sins are the “unforgiveable” ones? I mean, really, it was only a little sin, just a little “white lie”. Yes, in the big scheme of things, it was probably nothing more than a veritable sigh of a sin.
But in our interconnectedness, sin affects us all. And even the smallest of sins can release such a force that none of us can control it. Now don’t get me wrong. I do not in any way believe that “sin” is something outside of us. It is not a “force to be reckoned with”, so to speak. I’m pretty clear that when I sin, it is me. It is my bad choice. It is me that has messed up, that has not honored myself or my place in the beauty of this interconnected Creation, rather than it being caused by some sort of little red man with horns or something. I am the one to be blamed. I have to own it. It is mine. It is mine, that is, until it is done. And then it spills into Creation and begins cutting a path with a force more powerful than anything I imagined, a veritable “tsinami” of destruction through this interdependent earth. (And you thought I spelled the title of this blog wrong!)
But as Paul reminds us, we are forgiven. We are forgiven with a force greater than any of our sin. Christ came that we would know that. I don’t really think in terms of Christ forgiving my little white lie. It’s bigger than that. “Christ came to take away the sin of the earth.” Christ came not to take away the sins, ticking them off one by one or keeping track of whether or not I’ve reached my quota. Christ came to take that tsinami away from us, that collective ball of SIN that ravages the earth and leaves destruction in its path. God does what we cannot. And in forgiveness, we finally find peace–not innocence, but real peace. And then we will pick the pieces of our lives up and continue walking with God.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
Grace and Peace,