Wednesday, 20 June 2007

God is Not a Big Meanie

Had an interesting conversation with one of my most broadminded friends tonight. I love getting her perspective. We talked about evil, the world, and us. I've been thinking aboout how these things relate to God.
Let's face it, God gets a bad rap in our culture for being so tough on sin. We're only human, after all, and is sin really SO bad?
There are a couple of questions on which God's reputation really hangs here. First of all, what is sin? Second, how big is it, really?
Broadly, sin is selfishness. It is the opposite of, or the absence of, love. It is the lifebreath of a greater thing - evil.
The problem with sin is this: it is much, much bigger and more powerful than we imagine.
I've been watching the Lord of the Rings for the first time. The thing that grips me is the movie's understanding of evil. Sometimes evil looks good. Sometimes it smiles and speaks softly. Sometimes it comforts the good guy when he's tired. But once chosen, it ends up with a power over the very one who chose, and a vastly greater power to destroy.
This is just myth, our society tells us. These things aren't real. Even children know the difference between reality and the movies.
This is not myth: I throw a bottle in the garbage. (Can't be bothered lugging it all the way out to the recycling bin. It's no big deal - only a single bottle.) Unless everyone in your city and my city and cities all over the world does the same thing. That's millions and billions of bottles filling up landfill sites and polluting lakes and rivers and ultimately, destroying the whole universe. We've gotten used to the idea of living in a polluted earth, whose soil lacks the nutrients to grow the plants we need to be healthy; whose air and water are full of toxins and destructive pollutants. The idea of a depleting ozone and the threat of global warming have got to be commonplace. No big deal, we suppose. Someone in the future will invent a way to fix what we've done.
We haven't yet.
Instead, even with our recycling programs and eco-awareness, we've only barely managed to slow a process that has left us on a dying planet, rampant with cancers and diseases that all our medicines hardly leave a dent in.
When we choose sin, we see ourselves as entirely in control. Just this - that's all I want. Along with our little self-indulgences, evil comes slithering smoothly through the door we've opened just a crack. That evil is destructive. It's bigger than you or me. And we give it a power and a freedom in our lives and in our world that is destroying far more than just us. Take a look at the earth we were supposed to care for. We've forgotten what it's like to breathe pure air, to drink water that hasn't been chemically treated, to eat food that doesn't have to be supplemented with synthetic vitamins. Our selfishness has opened the door to a level of destruction that is bigger than our lives, bigger than our cities. It's destroying our whole universe.
The God of all was willing to suffer and to submit himself to death in order to defeat sin. When he judges sin, he's not being tough - he's dealing the only way possible with his enemy and ours. There is no such thing as a little sin - when it comes in, it brings destruction with it. There's no overlooking it. There's no brushing it under the table. There's no excusing it with the "we're only human" mantra.
Sin and evil will either be destroyed without mercy or they will destroy without mercy.


joeyanne said...

Thank you, Jennypo, for this. It really made me think!!

Heather said...

I think a key point you're making is very important here: sin starts small, and then grows. That really ties into Jesus's words about it's not just enough to refrain from committing adultery, or refrain from murdering. THose are physical actions, and physical actions start from a thought. If one has a lustful heart, or hates his/her sibling. Those feelings also have to be eradicated, for their to be a complete victory over sin.

jennypo said...

That's it, Heather. The big problem is that by the time we have finished choosing sin, it has already chosen us. By that time, Pandora's box is open, and we've let loose something that doesn't disappear just because we've stopped choosing it. An "oops, sorry!" doesn't set us free from the consequences, which are entirely aside from forgiveness.
Oh, it makes me thankful that God was willing to take things into his own hands in order to deal with sin and evil.

Slapdash said...

Hi Jennypo, I found you via Marie's unbelievably believable blog.

I like your analogy of how sin starts small and grows.

For me, I think the as-yet-unanswered question is why evil deserves eternal punishment? How on earth does it square with Jesus' commands for us to forgive others 70x7 times, and to turn the other cheek? Why does God insist that we forgive others for their sin/evil, but he doesn't actually have to forgive us for our sin/evil, and in fact will infinitely punish those who committed finite crimes here on earth? That's where I get hung up.

jennypo said...

Hi, Slapdash! Welcome to my little corner.
I'm working and studying these days, so I'm going to respond a little at a time, starting with this one. Great questions that have given me interesting thoughts and a few questions of my own, so thanks.
I thought the answer deserved its own post, so you can find it on the main page.