Our post-modern way has almost certainly infiltrated our faith; what we hear exhorted much too often is a doctrine fitted to comfort and ease; health and happiness.
Whilst these, in themselves, are not bad things, they miss the essential heart of the Gospel—the ministry of Jesus; so much of our Bible is pushed to the background so a more pleasant form of the Good News can be read, and therefore carried.
Is that what God’s really about—a ‘selected’ faith? We must ask, do we really know God? What, as a test, does God really despise?
“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that hurry to run to evil,
a lying witness who testifies falsely,
and one who sows discord in a family.”
~Proverbs 6:16-19 (NRSV)
The one polarising truth that differentiates us with the earliest of believers is we have a fractured, incomplete sense of community. We think too much in terms of the community of one—the happiness and health of the individual. We bemoan suffering; we exalt ‘blessing’. These things are important to God, but not at the expense, and nothing like the importance, of the relationship—real community; of two, few, or many.
A ‘Best Test’ Of Sin
Some might believe the concept that to sin against someone is to transgress them, alone; as if it were permissible to upset people and, therefore, not upset God.
This is a poor understanding of the Divine Being, who exists in relationship with us, and has created life in this universe extant within relationship. Human beings are in relationship with their God, with each other, with themselves, with their environment, with their existence—whether they like, or accept, these facts or not.
If there was ever a ‘best test’ for sin it would have to involve transgression within a relationship, or relationships. We can see here that health and happiness don’t really fit the bill; not entirely. But in doing things that might damage ourselves, or others, or our relationship with God, these do.
Reframing Our Theology
In our post-modern age, where we’re likely to be fed some skewed doctrine, we ought to continually come back to the causatively relational nature of both sanctification and sin. We’re sanctified or found wanting because of our relational outcomes. We’re blessed or cursed, favoured or condemned, based on our relational inputs and outputs.
A better test for our theology is to recall the celebrated glory of the First Century church depicted in Acts 2:42-47. Here it was that the believers devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. They believed together and ensured they had all things in common; they would sell excess possessions and divide the proceeds. Most of all, they exhibited glad and generous hearts; they would praise God together and, in doing so, glorify him in their collective being.
God is most pleased when we express our faith within the community of believers and beyond, in being committed to living harmoniously, always for the betterment of others. The sins God hates most are those where we disrespect our relationships.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: for Rick Warren’s 3/19/12 tweet: “The sins you hear preached against most & worry about most & are not the sins God hates most. See Prov. 6:16-19.”