This post is about sin. It rabbit trails around like my writing usually does, but its about sin. And the Bible and salvation.
Is God real and is He completely trustworthy? For me, that's an easy question to answer. Of course God is real and absolutely He is completely trustworthy. Overall, are people completely trustworthy? Historically, no. Sometimes its not deliberate to be untrustworthy, it just works out that way. When I think about the Bible, I always think about that kid's game of where you all sit in a circle and the first person writes down a sentence. Then the first person whispers the sentence to the next person and then the next whispers it, and so on around the circle.
100% of the time, the sentence the first person wrote down does not even resemble the sentence the last person in the circle speaks out loud.
I'm not a bible scholar. I am studying the bible, but it is slow going because its really hard to understand what's going on. You have to understand the context, who's talking to who, cultural references and sometimes you need to know that the original Greek word or Aramaic word has several meanings depending on the situation. This leaves the meaning up to interpretation and its people, human beings, doing the interpreting.
I'm not saying the bible isn't the word of God. It certainly has a magical quality to it, it comes alive at times when I read it and the people in the stories are oddly, deeply relatable. There is something very special about it. I think God speaks to us through the Bible. (That's not my thought. I had a wonderful conversation with the priest at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Father Michael, and he said that to me - God speaks to us through the bible.)
This is where I am in my understanding now: If I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he died on the cross and was resurrected to life, and that this act saved me from my sins, then I will be with God when the end times come. That is THE bottom line in Christianity. The thing that seems to be a huge source of confusion is SIN v. GETTING INTO HEAVEN. People tell me all the time that I'm not getting into heaven because of the gay thing!!
So, why all the preoccupation with sin? I think we are hurt by sin and it hurts God when we hurt. God doesn't want us to be hurt - if you read the Old Testament you might find that statement hard to believe, because God did some awful things to people and expected them to do some pretty gross things. Life was very, very hard for Old Testament people. I don't understand the big change in God's demeanor from the Old to the New Testament -- maybe Jesus' horrible experience and then the coming of the Holy Spirit tempered God a lot. I sometimes think people have PTSD from the Old Testament. That would help explain the knee jerk reaction I get when some people find out I'm gay and then proceed to tell me I'm going to hell.
But life got a lot easier for people after the coming of Jesus Christ. We have a way to deal with sin and be forgiven. I want to be forgiven for my transgressions and I want to stop sinning as much as possible. But sin and salvation are not connected. A good friend of mine told me that sin is like dirt on a window between us and God. The more you sin, the more dirt gets on the window and the less we can see God. That is a fantastic visual analogy about the way I think about sin. I want my window to God to be as dirt free as possible. Jesus gave me the incredible gift of salvation, now in return I want to live my life in a way that would be pleasing to Him.
I was reading a book of the bible called Galatians. Paul was speaking to the people in the church in Galatia, who had strayed back to the old way of life they were living before Jesus came. Paul was really trying to live in the freedom Jesus gave us.
Some of the Jews who did not believe that Jesus is the Messiah had infiltrated the church and convinced the members there that they needed to start living under the old laws like they had before. These laws were very strict and limiting. Paul was kind of astonished that anyone would want to go back to the old ways when the new freedom that Christ had given them was so wonderful.
The take away from the story in Galatians for me is there is true freedom in following Jesus. He saved us from our sins, he released us from the old laws of the Jews, and he set us free to live our lives. I don't think there was ever any doubt that human beings would continue to sin, but now there is a way out. Forgiveness. But its easy to go back to the old ways of thinking, being rigid and uptight.Sin and salvation. Why is it such a confusing concept?