We live in a world where the word “sin” has almost disappeared from our vocabulary. Even as this has happened, the sense of guilt from sin remains in our hearts and minds, causing us to engage in self-destructive behavior. In 1973 a well-know psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Karl Menninger wrote a book with the title, Whatever Became of Sin? In the book he wrote, “Clergymen have a golden opportunity to prevent some of the accumulated misapprehensions, guilt, aggressive action, and other roots of later mental and mental disease. How? Preach! Tell it like it is. Cry it from the housetops. What shall we cry? Cry comfort, cry repentance, cry hope. Because recognition of our part in the world’s transgression is the only remaining hope.”
Sin by its very nature is a three letter word all of us would like to avoid. This is true particularly when it comes to taking responsibility for our own sins. Yet Jesus had a lot to say about sin. He knew that unless we came face to face with this cancer of sin, it would ultimately destroy us.
It is the “I” in the word sin that is the real problem. Facing the “I” means taking a close look at the sin in my own life. That can be not only depressing, but down right devastating. As Paul said in Romans 7:18, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” You know how frustrating it is to have the desire to do the right thing but then not have the ability to carry it out. Well, Paul’s intention is not to frustrate you, but to identify with the struggles you and I have on a daily basis and show us a solution. He goes on and says in verses 24, 25 of Romans 7, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Saying that Jesus is the answer is not just a trite religious phrase. His death and resurrection overcome the curse of sin…
My heart is heavy because of the restlessness, the sad struggle that plays out before me every day. So many people are the victims of rootless poverty that seems endless. As I was preparing this sermon I met a man who said he had just been wandering around for days. He hasn’t slept because he just wants to get back home to Kansas City. He says he just needs enough money for a one way bus ticket. But as I listen it becomes clear that he came to this area homeless looking for work on craigslist and when it didn’t work out, he’s headed back to the same situation. He wants to go back to his fiancé who is giving birth right about now. And he’s just wandering around trying to scrape together whatever money he can get to be back in time for his baby’s birth. That’s his story.
There are so many more stories like this one. No real plan beyond, “Maybe I can find a job” or “I’ll make it somehow.” When I ask, “Who knows you?” I’m told, “Well, my fiancé has a cellphone without any minutes.” The travelers aid society we partner with needs verification. They don’t want to just move people around who don’t have contacts in the destination city. I recommend some other ideas to this man. Ways he can settle for a few weeks in order to rest, eat, find work, and then travel in time. He turns it down and walks out.
I walk over to our front desk and ask a group of men who are crowding the phone operator to have a seat and assure them that their requests will be answered in time. A young man yells out, “I just want a hygiene kit.” I answer him by name and say, “You’ll get it when we call your name.” With that he calls out a curse on the building and on my father by name and walks out. Just because he doesn’t want to wait five minutes. So much impatience and hostility. So much controversy and weariness. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As we set a course for our lives based on God’s word, we can learn to fear Him and walk in His ways.
When Jesus Christ invaded planet earth with the dual natures of divinity and humanity, He turned the status quo upside down. His revolutionary message, presented in word and deed, declared that if it is going to last, you have got to be last. It was Jesus who, being fully God, became man and revealed to us the art of downward mobility resulting in the Theology of Equality.
When the rich man asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus cuts to the core of extreme capitalism, where net worth equals net value. Listen to these words of revolution that Jesus spoke in Mark 10:17-22, “A man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’…Jesus looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this (the rich man) was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.”
This man’s reaction looks like that of many today when it comes to the Theology of Equality. They claim they are followers of Jesus Christ and even believe it is alright to have equality in the spiritual realm but when it gets quite practical like raising the minimum wage to ten dollars an hour or addressing the great inequalities between the rich and the poor, they then like the rich man go away grieving because they do not want to give up the many possessions they have.
The unwillingness to accept the Biblical Theology of Equality is obvious by the spiritual depravity in America…