Monday, January 28, 2013

The Seduction of Sin

Sin always sounds so inviting, so liberating, so enticing. It offers us promises of better things, of happier days, or less stress and worry and fear.  It promises that if we'll just put these shackles on, we'll have everything we want.  So we enter the shackles willingly, promised that we'll be taken care of, that we won't hurt anymore, that we'll be safe.

Then reality sets in and the pain begins and doesn't let go. Even the moments that aren't full of pain are tainted with regrets and sorrows. So we turn our back on what is good so that we don't have to feel bad anymore. We turn our back on what we know is right so we don't have to see how wrong what we're doing really is.  We shut our eyes to the pain we cause the people around us, shut our ears to the cries of those who are hurting because of us.  And we pretend that everything is okay, even while we're doing everything to escape the life we've created except the one thing that might actually set us free.

We wear our shackles like they are fine jewels, the emperor wearing his fine new clothes, and we get angry at anyone who dares to tell us the truth because we've become afraid of losing the shackles.  We've had them on so long we've forgotten what life was like before they were on.  We're afraid to lose what little we think we've gained because of them. We've listened to the lies for so long that the thought of what will happen when we're outside of those shackles terrifies us.  We truly believe we need them, we have to have them.  We can't imagine what our life would be like without them anymore.

Fear dominates our life now, a harsh master who beats us down every time we make any effort to stand up, to take control, to go the right direction.  He tells us we're no good, that nobody will ever believe we've changed, nobody will ever give us a chance.  He tells us nobody cares, nobody wants us, nobody will help us.  And we listen, because his is the only voice we can hear anymore.  He tells us we have to do what we're doing, that we'll die if we don't.  And we listen and obey and hate ourselves all the more because deep down inside we know we are cowards for not facing him.  We know who we've become and we hate it, but our fear is greater than our hatred of the fear.

This story only ends one of two ways.  We are either driven to destruction out of fear and self-loathing, or someone reaches out to us and shows us that we don't have to live this way.  Someone else reaches out, lifts us up, removes the shackles, helps us fight our fears and restores us to life.  Someone loves us even though we keep returning to the shackles because we're too weak to fight the fear alone but we haven't learned how to ask for help and we haven't learned where to find it when we need it.  Someone loves us long enough and strong enough to break through the walls we built to keep people from seeing the ugliness of what we've done, and then keeps on loving us even though we don't deserve it, even though we have done these terrible things.

This is why Christ sent us out into this world - so that we could love.  So that we, who have received that same love from Christ, can pass it on to those who are hurting and lonely and afraid.  So that we, who have been freed from our own sins can go free others from theirs.  Not to judge them in their weakness, but to love them from the strength we've been given through Christ. This is why we preach the Gospel - that Good News that says you don't have to die in chains. The Good News that says there is still hope and there's a better way and you don't have to be afraid because you don't have to do this on your own.  This is the message we've been given, and this is the message we've been sent to carry to others.  May we remember, and may we never forget.

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