Written by Scott Taylor
You should know that I am quite the sinner. I know it and now you do too!
I hope that some of you can relate.
Recently, my wife and I entertained a couple of friends for Sunday afternoon lunch. I was so excited to leave church and make the short trip home for some fellowship with friends who we don’t get to see very often. Our time together is always special and this occasion was no different with one exception. That is, our daughter was not well behaved. Her actions were aggressive and very new to both her parents. At the end of our time with our friends, we felt embarrassed. Later in the afternoon, I was talking with my older brother on the phone and I mentioned our daughter’s behavior and our general confusion as parents. My brother, an ordained Southern Baptist Minister with 5 children, exclaimed, “Brother, that’s just your daughter’s original sin making itself known!” He was joking. (I think.) I responded light-heartedly, “I think there is something more original than our sin.”
Lord knows that sin runs deep. So deep that we don’t really like to say the word. “Sin” has become one of those words that we would prefer to keep in the vaults of the church and only bring out from time to time. At First Methodist, we keep the word “sin” right next to other seldom uttered words – “Saved.” “Charismatic.” “Washed.” We have a whole shelf filled with hymns about “blood!”
So, I’m opening the vault and talking about “sin.” Moreover, I’m talking about the “original” one. We’ll call it Sin (with a capital ‘S’). If you have images of a naked Adam and Eve eating the proverbial apple, I would suggest a different approach. If we are going to discover the original Sin, we will have to look deep within ourselves. When we do that, we find what all lovers of wisdom and fans of Star Wars already know – the root of sin is FEAR (or as Yoda would say, “Fear is the path to the dark side…”).
If you will return to your Garden of Eden painting (it’s also in the vault) and note that fear is the first feeling experienced by our nudist forbearers upon eating the fruit – they covered themselves up for they were afraid in their nakedness. Throughout scripture we meet homicidal Cains and genocidal Herods, doubting Thomases and denying Peters, and fear is always at the heart of their sins. And this Sin is not confined to our stories of scripture. Fear seems to show up everywhere these days. It is there in the relationship preventing people from forgiving each other because Fear always whispers a lie in the heart that says “to forgive is a weakness.” Fear is present in the workplace preventing one person from celebrating another’s successes because fear always tells us “that the success of others must come at your expense.” And sure, I can’t help but acknowledge that fear is there when a mass shooting happens. But fear’s true legacy comes after the shooting in telling us “that we can’t and shouldn’t trust each other.”
Lord knows I am a Sinner. An original Sinner. But the message of our faith is that there is something more original than our fear. We are made is God’s image. We are endowed the fruits of the Spirit – love, peace, patience, joy – fruits that cast out fear. We are given Christ as one who shares our yoke and our burdens of fear. We are given each other as partners in those fearless practices of forgiveness, love, and trust. In short, what is more original than Sin – WE ARE.