We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (NIV)
Wholeness, Peace and Blessing – The Sin Series – Part 1
Like most of you, I grew up with a vertical idea of theology. God exists high above us and at times grants us grace and draws near to our wretched lives. Sin is the ocean between the Divine and me, and the bridge between us came at much cost. Even though we were made in God’s image, we (humanity) had stuffed things up so much that it seemed all remnant of God in us was destroyed, driven from our makeup.
“God exists in holy isolation, untouched by the messiness of creation, and that we, God’s children, are morally and spiritually filthy, bereft of all goodness, utterly unworthy to stand before the Divine Presence.” (1.)
How do you bridge that gap? How do become worthy? Spiritually clean? In touch with God?
Religion attempts to help lost and seeking souls find that ‘connect’ with God again, bridge the gap, find a way, keep them clean and focused – unsinful. If you come to church, and say this prayer, and do this course, and give your money, and spend your time, you can get close to God again.
But I’ve experienced something different.
God has always been with me. Even when I thought there was an ocean-sized sin-induced gap between us, there wasn’t. In fact, it's been in my darkest moments that I have felt God present with me. Sin hasn’t seemed to be a problem for him in that regard. It doesn’t act like his kryptonite, crippling him from being involved and manifest. It's exactly in those moments of my inadequacy that I sense Spirit and grace.
We view sin as the ultimate of evil. Something that destroys and separates and breaks and violates. We cover ’sin’ with aggressive language that further communicates that the things we have done, and equally the things that we haven’t, are met with anger and judgment and wrath. But sin lives within a larger story.
In his book, Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, theologian Cornelius Plantinga said:
“Sin is culpable disturbance of Shalom.”
We could talk for WEEKS about this. So forgive me for trying to keep it brief. And if this brings up questions for you, please research and let me know what you find!
Shalom is the Hebrew word for wholeness, peace, and blessing. Shalom is how things are supposed to be.
But things aren’t as they should be, right? On every level. The earth (the literal earth, as in land and oceans and plants and air and so forth), our lives (as individuals), our societies (community to government to nations). “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). There have been many disturbances of shalom. Some that we are responsible for, some we are not. And others where we remain (blissfully or ignorantly) unaware of our culpable contribution.
“Shalom is God’s design for creation and redemption; sin is blameable human vandalism of these great realities.” (2).
I feel God with me at that moment. When all my inherited theology and ideas of God being separate from me tell me otherwise, God is there with me. In the weeds. In the muck and mess. The thing that should be his kryptonite somehow is mute.
And he’s not there in a big brother way, recording everything I’ve ever done wrong so it can be judged in a court of heaven and church accordingly.
He’s there with forgiveness. With mercy. With hope.
He’s there to remind me of who I really am. Not a sinner, but a saint.
Written by Liz Milani
1). Diana Butler Bass. Grounded: Finding God in the World-A Spiritual Revolution (pp. 159). HarperCollins.
2). Cornelius Plantinga. Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. (pg 16). Apollos.