For my literature class we’ve been required to read “As I Lay Dying”, a novella by William Faulkner. I must admit, overall I am not impressed. Much of it is stream-of-consciousness (of which I am NOT a fan) and difficult to understand, but there is enough humor in amidst the confusion that it’s bearable. But today in my reading I came across a striking quote that I wanted to share.
“People to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.”
I find this to be astoundingly true. Ravi Zacharias has said that when we change how we define something, we alter what effect it has on us, we change what it is. This may be an obvious statement, but it’s true. Stealing may be a sin, but if we say “I had every intention of giving it back,” we alter our action to fit a new definition. When you change things like adultery and abortion into “choices” and “freedom”, you alter what they mean in your life and in society.
A growing trend in Western churches (and I mean Western world, not Western United States) is to minimize sin. We take on psychological jargon and concepts and play the blame game, telling people that they are no more than a product of things that other people have done to them. We tell them that they really aren’t bad people, they just need a little help to be better is all. While I certainly don’t condone a fire and brimstone theology, the reality of sin does not need to be minimized or left out to make way for a feel-good theology. If “sin” is just a word, then the need for salvation becomes moot. If I’m really a basically good person with a couple of small flaws, then Christ and the Cross becomes meaningless for my life.
We have to be careful to keep things in their proper context. My old JROTC instructor had a saying he used often. “Call a snake a snake.” You can’t call Christ a Savior, unless you call sin a pit. In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”