There are plenty of people who want to be good, certainly good enough to go to heaven. But it is all too human to think that by being good we’ll miss out on the fun or the “gusto” or something. So we bargain with ourselves and don’t stop doing things we know are wrong. Eventually we discover that following this “get-away-with-what-I-can” philosophy leads us into real problems and pain.
Other people don’t simply want to be good, they strive to be better: to change and grow and develop their character, striving for an ideal. The ideal may be a list of virtues (Ben Franklin tried it that way) or the goal to measure up to “the full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:13). However this can lead to frustration and a sense of failure when we struggle with temptation and find we can’t achieve the ideal or the goal we’ve set.
To me, both of these reveal the meaning of sin. (I know this isn’t exactly people’s favorite subject, but it’s our reading this week.)
Sin is more than breaking moral or religious laws – the usual definition. Sin is the stuck-ness we find ourselves in. We get stuck in sin when we try to negotiate with our conscience about our behavior (how much can I get away with) or when we strive for such a high ideal we can’t reach it (how do I deal with failure).
Ogden takes us into Genesis 2-3, the story of Adam and Eve, to explore this subject. Maybe I’ll use Romans 7:18-20, where Paul says, “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
So in my discipleship, I need to come to terms not only with forgiveness for my specific sins, but also with growing in faith while struggling with my stuck-ness, the human condition.