The “S” Word

In modern society, we don’t want to say the word “sin.” In my generation, at least, the concept of sin has been so maligned that the word itself is uncomfortable to speak, even for those of us who know its reality. It’s one of those trigger words that automatically discredits the speaker, relegating something that should be serious to the level of unicorns and pixies.

Even among believers, the concept of sin is so misused that it has been rendered toxic (and before I could speak to society’s sin dysfunction, I have to look at the confusion in the church.)

Sin Among Christians

For a meaningful proof of this, take a concordance and look up the word sin. Do a quick count of how many times sin is associated with condemnation or destruction and how many times it is associated with forgiveness or repentance.

My point is simple: In God’s vocabulary, sin would be defined something like this: “Sin is man trying to run away from the best possible thing that could happen to him.” God’s vocabulary also has words in it like “condemnation” and “destruction” but their meanings are almost directly opposed to that of sin. Sin is damage done to our relationship with God that must be repaired.

Try this: When you think of sin, instead of associating it with condemnation or destruction, think of it in terms of a sad mistake to be fixed. As I’ve come to understand, that’s quite close to how God sees it.

Society’s malady

Secular society mocks sin in the same way that Atheism mocks God. To society, sin is the ultimate acknowledgment of personal guilt.

There are only two responses to such an acknowledgment. First is to accept and attempt to live with guilt (which leads us to the cross and Christ). Second is to deny the reality of that guilt.

This is the malady of society. They deny their guilt, and in so doing deny reality and substitute their own delusions. Because God’s reality is always there, the bedrock on which everything is built, the only way to deny it is to run from it. This can be done with mockery or simple denial, or by keeping one’s attention entirely away from that reality.

In the end, the reality is that our sin is a terrible separation from the God who loves us. It is not an arbitrary judgment on us or a condemnation. It is a simple acknowledgment that we’re running away from Him.

All Things Work Together for Good

Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

A long time ago, the importance of this concept was impressed on me in a way that I still have trouble describing.

Imagine that you have done the most terrible things you can imagine. Maybe you killed everyone you love in a fit of rage. Maybe you systematically destroyed your life and your relationships, one by one, as slowly and painfully as one can imagine.

The Almighty God will not just “fix” what you’ve done. He won’t make it as if it never happened. Humanity will never go back to a state of innocence, as we were in Eden.

God does not provide a magical “undo” button. What He offers is so much better than that…

Before I carry through to what He does offer, let me make the point that what God considers good is almost entirely outside of our experience. We now live in a fallen world, where sin and death are intrinsic to everything we experience. The taint of this world is inescapable.

What we see as “good” may just be mediocre or acceptable or unremarkable. What God sees as good is thoroughly, unreservedly good. Good in a way that we will never be able to experience in this world except through Christ.

What God provides is SO good that it has no downside, no regrets attached, no hint of evil.

God is in the business of perfecting us, not repairing us.

Those things in our lives that are evil or wrong–the things about ourselves that we know are offensive to a holy God–aren’t just going to be taken away from us or reversed. Instead, God has promised to work them into something Good.

That means He will take the things that are wrong and evil that we do or have done to us and turn them into something more beautiful and better than what could have been without them. No matter how ugly it may be, He has promised to use it to make something that He sees as good.

I cannot imagine a more substantive or meaningful reason for hope than that.

Live Libertarian

Because the word Libertarian has so many connotations, It would be easy to misunderstand what I mean when I say “Live Libertarian.”

First, understand that we are called to live, not under the law, but under grace.

1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

As the founders of the USA so eloquently put it, we are given the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by the almighty God. Even more than that, we as Christians are free from sin, in Christ.

Second, understand that as much as we are called to live under grace, so we are called to extend the same grace to everyone else that is extended to us.

Do not expect others to live in any particular way. Extend to those around you the assumption that they are free to live however they choose, free from your judgment or disapproval provided they don’t damage the lives of those for whom you personally are responsible.

Romans 14:2-4 “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?”

Finally, what is meant by living libertarian is simply making this basic approach natural to the way we see the world.

LIVE this. Don’t just appreciate it or agree with it. Make it a habit and integrate it into the way you approach life.

This doesn’t mean that you approve of everything that people around you do, but before you can reach out a hand to help, you have to understand what it means to allow others to live their own lives.

There is a world of difference between demanding change of others and offering them change. By nature, demanding is not going to lead to good things. Offering change may be a good thing, but for some of us, learning not to judge instinctively what the people around us are doing and automatically offer disapproval can be really difficult.

In a healthy society, appreciating the people around you for the good they offer must eclipse the drive to make the people around you be “good” (or the compulsion to see yourself as somehow being better than others, for whatever reason comes in handy first…)

Live libertarian means that you give everyone around you the freedom to do or say what they choose without you instinctively analyzing their behavior and deciding whether you disapprove.