In Christianity, ‘sin’ is kind of a buzzword. Much of the time, it is described vaguely, as if everyone already knows what it is. But I’m not so sure. What if our sins are those things we most often overlook? What if sin isn’t so obvious? I can’t help but wonder if attempts to know precisely what sin is, to define it, and to master it aren’t ways to justify the parts of ourselves we are more often than not unwilling to examine.
This emphasis on sin–and subsequently, on forgiveness from sin–reveal a strong emphasis on an exchange of economy. One party has wronged another party, whether that be God or another human being, and some sort of restitution must be made. This has inspired a lot of talk about atonement, explaining the death and resurrection of Jesus as something of an punitive transaction.
And then, we as individual ‘sinners’ are released from our debt.
Certainly this is one metaphor that has been prevalent in the history of Christian thought and even one that has some foundation in the Bible. But it is not the only metaphor. In fact, the biblical text more often describes sin as something beyond the particular short-comings of individuals. Sin is often corporate. And the answer for those sins is not so simple as forgiveness. Instead, the solution to sin is often framed in terms of liberation from exile, freedom from the oppressors, a renewed commitment to justice and equality, and living into a new way of being.
And there we find freedom.
How do you define sin? How do you define freedom?
Take some time this holiday weekend to think and join us on Sunday as we work through these difficult questions together.