Today, as we are in Lent, I wanted to briefly reflect on that word – sin. Its such a divisive word isn’t it? And it brings up all sorts of connotations – which are probably different for each of us and often unhelpful too. And misuse of the word can lead to division, isolation, rejection and judgmentalism. I have a friend who once told me that they would never step inside a church again because as soon as they do they expect to be reminded that they are a sinner – even before being told that they are loved. So sad. But that was the experience of her childhood.
The original word in Greek is ἁμαρτία (or hamartia) and it means to miss the mark. In other words, in relation to our relationship with God it is to miss the mark of God’s best for our lives. And we all do that regularly don’t we? And so, one of the ways that we can use Lent is to reflect on the ways that we have missed God’s best for our lives by the ways that we have spoken or acted or not spoken or acted. Ultimately this is to do with us breaking covenant with God – something we will be looking at in detail over the coming weeks. But rather than sin being a reason for us to run away from God, we need to know the grace that we have received through the cross. In much of the Old Testament the people of God were constantly expected to make reparation for their turning from God and yet there were never enough sacrifices until God himself made the ultimate sacrifice of his own self. We can never become right with God in our own strength, only in His. And like the disciples in the upper room we are to know that we are forgiven, cleansed and reunited with God if we have recognised the significance of the cross. But we are also called to wash our feet. Admitting when we are wrong is good and healthy – just like washing our feet! (Think on the fact that on the cross Jesus was admitting our wrongs on the cross even when he was innocent.)
As we examine our lives, particularly in relation to our relationship with God, we are able to keep in a right relationship with God – not fearing we will somehow not be good enough but confident that Jesus’ sacrifice was. And so I encourage you to use these days of Lent to become more aware of the times where you miss the mark in your love for God and for others. But each time you notice something, rather than feel condemned, ask for his mercy and grace afresh. They are new every morning! Receive the cleansing waters of God and know that by the blood of Jesus you are forgiven and make a fresh decision to know Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and follow Him more nearly, day by day.