Words and their meanings are important. Sometimes a word carries different meanings and associations for different people, which is one of the things that we were reminded of at “The Jesus School” this past week. Take for example the word ‘sin’. What comes to your mind? How would you define it?
Nadia Bolz-Weber (a Lutheran pastor) has this to say about sin:
“I love to talk about sin, which makes little sense to people who want to label me as a liberal. I think perhaps that actual liberals equate admitting we are sinful with having low self-esteem. And then the conservatives equate sin with immorality (only sometimes do sin and immorality converge). So one end of the church tells us that sin is an antiquated notion that only makes us feel bad about ourselves so we should avoid mentioning it at all. While the other end of the church tells us that sin is the same as immorality and totally avoidable if you are just a good, squeaky clean Christian. But when sin is boiled down to low self-esteem and immorality then it becomes something we can control or limit in some way, rather than something we are in bondage to. The reality is that I cannot free myself from the bondage of self. I cannot keep from being turned in on self. I cannot by my own understanding or effort disentangle myself from my self-interest, and when I think that I can … I am trying to do what is only God’s to do.
To me, there is actually great hope in admitting my mortality and brokenness because then I finally lay aside my sin management program and allow God to be God for me. Which is all any of us really need when it comes down to it.”
There are other words within the Christian lexicon like salvation, repentance, eternal life, hell, heaven, justice, neighbour, life, death … that all invite our exploration.