I've been reading my way through William H. Willimon's book Sinning Like a Christian. Willimon was Dean of Duke University Chapel before his appointment as Presiding Bishop of the Birmingham Area of the United Methodist Church. He's written a zillon and1 books including Resident Aliens with Stanley Hauerwas, one of the most influencial theologians in my life. Willimon was named one of the "Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the Enlish-Speaking World" by Baylor University (my school, yay!).
"For Christians, sin is not so much inherent in the human condition...; rather, sin is the problem we have between us and God. It is rebellioin agaist our true Sovereign, an offense against the way the Creator has created us to be," writes Willimon.
I picked up this book last weekend as I roamed the halls of Truett Seminary. There were booksellers and folks of that sort there. Sinning Like a Christian is about the 'Seven Deadly Sins.' Willimon notes that the reason they are called the 'Seven Deadly Sins' is because they are sins we cannot shake, we can't seem to get rid of; rather, they are chronic, presistent. The sins of Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust.
If it were not for the example of Jesus, we would not know that pride be a sin, Willimon writes. He also takes a unique look at lust.
"Lust, along with Pride, has undergone considerable rehabilitation in our own day. No one wants to be accused of Envy or Greed, but Lust has become a quite endearing characteristic of modern enlightened folk like us. In modern life, the damaging thing about lust is surpressing it. In an earlier day, masturbation was a sin. Now, it's a cure."
We've been working our way through the whole sex thing at THE LEAP. One of the main issues we are tackling is lust. This is where all the rest of sexual sins seem to come from, for a guy at least.
But Willimon's book has caused me to look at sin in a different way. We all fall short of God's glory, of His intentions for us. We are prone to depravity. And it is only because of Jesus that we can understand our depraved nature.
"Once there was One who came to us, who touched the untouchables, turned his back upon the world's bright baubles, loved even unto death, and never turned his eyes away from God. And we hated him for it. He came to us with wide-opened hands in gracious invitation, seeking us, both patient with us and hotly pursuing us. And thereby he brought out the very worst in us. And we with one voice cried, "Crucify him!"
Amen and amen.