Am I a sinner?
This is a great question that we think about a lot as Christians, and I have enjoyed many a theological debate on the current state of human sin. Are we flawed and sinful, as individuals and corporately as the human race, as Romans teaches us that our flesh is weak, or are we in fact saved and redeemed by Jesus Christ, washed by the blood and set free – therefore currently in a state of saintliness?
I’ll let you come to your own conclusions about that one, but on a more superficial level, how comfortable are we when it comes to acknowledging our sin? Do we accept that we are fundamentally sinful by our nature or do we actually think that we are not really that bad? I expect it depends on who is judging us. I have become acutely aware during my ordination training that people can be very trusting of me, a trainee vicar. The world does not see me as ‘bad’. While I might still see myself as the teenage rebel I once was, the world sees a mum who goes to church, supports other ‘good causes’ and generally follows a healthy lifestyle. I have even been asked to mentor younger people as a good role model. (This is seriously making me cringe!) Now while no one would expect me to be perfect, I know that others might be happy to describe me as ‘good’. And all this, is very dangerous for my ego, because I might start to believe that I am a good person. If I listen to what the world says, suddenly I don’t need a Saviour. Do I hold my head high and profess that I am a Christian, and therefore live an upright life and am in no need of correction thank you very much? Or can I maintain a posture of humility and remember that I am in fact a sinner, with a nature that tends to choose the wrong path if I’m not careful (or even when I am)? Can we remember that we are sinful? Even when it feels uncomfortable to do so. We can be sinful without even being aware of it, because: (Romans 7:15) ‘I am a slave to sin. I don’t really understand it myself, for I want to do what is right but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate.’ Paul teaches that our sinful nature is not to be underestimated.
What about if this post was instead titled, ‘Am I racist?’
Does that provoke a different response within you? The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked much passion and debate as people share their experiences and what it means to them.
People come to the conversation from such different places, and one thing that strikes me, is that when people are defensive it may be because they are afraid. Before we get deeper into the heart of this movement. I think it would be good to take some time to think about what fears that we may have.
Are we afraid of being called a racist? I expect that for most of us we would be horrified if we were called such and like to think that we are definitely not. What would happen if we found out that actually, beneath the surface there might be some underlying prejudice that is so deeply rooted in our culture that we aren’t even aware of it? Are we brave enough to open our hearts to God and put our inner world under the microscope to see if there is any racism lurking. In the same way that we offer up ourselves to God and ask the Holy Spirit to make us aware of any sin we need to deal with, are we able to be as vulnerable when it comes to issues of race and diversity? Is there anything about these issues that makes us afraid, and what does it mean to address them as people of faith?
Perhaps take some time today to ask God to speak to you about these issues; just between you and God, be really honest about how you feel about it. Ask God if there is anything He would like to show you regarding racism?
I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our thoughts and open our eyes to what we need to see, so that we can respond in love as children of God.