For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
~ Ephesians 2:10
I awoke early this morning, returned to bed, and woke up a few hours later, still struggling with the idea of, "How do I love my neighbor when we have encountered great pain," and, "If I fail to ask for forgiveness, or I am not asked for forgiveness, do I then enter into sin against my neighbor?"
Even as I shared my journey, two friends that I would consider theologians because they have both devoted their lives to the study of their faith, began to argue about what is "sin."
Oh, the times that we live in!
What I discerned from their conversation is that somewhere we seem to disconnect from what God wants for us, and we begin to spiral into what we want for ourselves.
I will admit, I have been both baited, and offered bait, in order to draw in discussions that I knew would end badly. In the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology we read:
"In the biblical perspective, sin is not only an act of wrongdoing but a state of alienation from God… It signifies the rupture of a personal relationship with God, a betrayal of the trust God places in us…sin (harmartia) is not just a conscious transgression of [God’s] law but a [weakening] ongoing state of [hatred of] God…sin…can be thought of as [an evil], personal power that holds [all of] humanity in its grasp. (1103)
I seem to be finding some comfort in also acknowledging the struggle between the inward journey that God is calling us to take, while the world seems to want our undivided attention.
I don't know whether it is the actual lack of being present with others, or weighing too much emphasis on Facebook and the definition of "friend." (That could be the subject of an entire Sunday morning sermon!)
I think that what I am discovering is that many of us are simply not comfortable in our own skins. The world challenges us to look for ourselves, while all along, we are being reminded to look to God. I recognize this, even within my own self.
Again, I hear Jesus praying to God and reminding God that, "They are still in the world. You gave them to me..." but then we seem to have lost sight of the "Word." I am reminded of the opening words of the Gospel of John, "And the word became flesh."
This morning, I am face to face with my own failure to become those words, but then, I turn and look in the mirror and realize that there is still hope. We still are all created in the image of God, who first loves each of us equally. Beyond the color of our skin. Our struggles in poverty and wealth. When we fail to see one another as brothers and sisters. We need to remember that as long as we have breath within us, we still carry the word in us as well. We no longer need to search, because the words have been placed in our hearts.
We simply need to remember to speak from our heart and allow them to become our flesh. When we fail to speak out of love, that is why we fail one another.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.