Sin is a word that can stay at the surface or penetrate deep. What exactly is sin? Well, the most obvious definition is that sin is disobeying God. How do we disobey God? The Ten Commandments come to mind. When we were just a ‘baby people’ beginning a life in a new (Promised) land, God gave us some guidelines to follow. Many people think of them as 10 Don’ts, but if you think about it, they are really there to help us and protect us. When dealing with others (the last seven Commandments), we think ‘do unto others….’ Would we want someone to steal from us, to lie to us, to kill us? Of course not, and therefore, these are in place to establish loving, truthful relationships with each other. The First Three are there to teach us what our relationship to God should be. And so it makes sense that if we break a Commandment we sin.
But conversely, if we think that we don’t sin if we keep the Commandments, then we are in big trouble. Although I could argue that most of us really have trouble with the First Commandment, God first – really??? always??? first before me??? hmmmmm…..
If we define sin a bit differently, perhaps dig a bit deeper, we open up an entire new way of thinking. Suppose we say that sin is anything that separates me from God. Sin then becomes a lot more personal. Something that may separate me may not separate you and therefore, my sin is not your sin, etc. Do you see where I’m going? For example, take something like fear or worry. I may be a wonderful, Commandment abiding person, go to church, volunteer in my community, be patient, kind, a wonderful friend, etc. People may look at me and think, “Wow, she’s got it all together, what a ‘saint'”. And yet, if I am riddled with fear or anxiety, this is separating me from my God who says, ‘fear is useless, what is needed is trust’. And so, this is my sin – my fear is separating me from God. If you don’t struggle with fear or anxiety, then it may not be your sin…see how personal it all is?
We begin with the basics, the Ten Commandments, and then we move to the relationship, the intimate relationship and we ask, ‘What is it that separates me from God?’ And we try to become aware of it and name it. We claim it as our ‘sin’. We name it, we claim it, and then, with God’s Grace, we tame it.
Sin, separation from God, hurts, kills…..but it doesn’t have the last word. We come back (as Peter did), we come back as many times as necessary, and each time we return, we are welcomed with forgiveness and love. We turn away, we pull away, we separate ourselves…..God searchs, waits and loves us back to the intimate relationship between Father (Mother) and child.