I started my sermon last week with a few things “that I hate.” My current top eight goes something like this (the order is always in flux):
- I hate what aging does to parents and grandparents in terms of pain and increasing disabilities.
- I hate childhood cancer. Any cancer is awful, but the kinds that strike kids seem especially despicable (#pray4harrison).
- I hate spousal abuse. A man who strikes his wife has arrived at the epitome of selfishness and cowardice.
- I hate sexual abuse/ predatory habits directed at children. Whether the abuse happens in the child’s bedroom, in a care-giving context or in the streets of Amsterdam, Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia, there is probably no more base perversion.
- I hate abortion. Even with rare, “special” cases noted, it still remains a fact that the vast majority of healthy, pre-born infants are killed because of financial, relational or life-stage inconveniences.
- I hate the mistreatment of other Christians around the world. I recognize that God can use this suffering in gracious ways to strengthen His body, but the hatred and brutality of the persecutors in the name of religion is astounding.
- I hate racism. It seems that no other item on this list can go unnoticed or unchecked for so long, even in the churches of God.
- I hate my own battle with sin. I know that Christ is victorious over my sin and that Christians are free from the bondage of sin. However, I also know that too much of my life is spent in the tension of Romans 6 and 7.
Besides being on my “hate” list, what do these things have in common? Well, they are all a result of the Fall of humans into sin. As we can read in Genesis 1-4, before the sin of Adam and Eve, no one of the above items had a place in God’s perfect creation, even among the humans that He created. I am not saying that these things happen to certain individuals today because of a particular sin that they have committed. Jesus dismissed that type of thinking in John 9. No, the point that I am making is that according to the first chapters of the Bible, sin brought death, broken relationships and evil directed toward other creatures. Theologians spend a lot of time talking the specifics of original sin and its effects. However the doctrine is articulated, the universality of the effects of original sin is hard to deny. Once that first sin was committed, everything changed. Humans no longer had a harmonious relationship with God and required new acts of His grace to be freed from the full effects of their sin. Along with separation from God, death became a reality. Notice the striking and rapid digression that takes place among humans due to original sin. From the sinful dietary choices of Adam and Eve, it only takes one generation to get to the first murder, a clear indication of Cain’s unwillingness to flee the “sin” that laid in wait for him (4:7-8). The Bible is clear that sinful humans are in desperate need of God’s covering of their sin (and “nakedness”). It is just this universal desperation that sets the stage for God’s great “rescue,” the gospel. As the Apostle Paul celebrates it in Colossians 1:13-14,
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Oh, how sweet is that promise of the forgiveness of sins? For a world full of rebellious and hate-filled sinners, it is the good news that we all need to hear.