“There is no problem with the wider culture that you cannot see in the spades in the Christian Church. The rot is in us, and not simply out there. And Christians are making a great mistake by turning everything into culture wars. It’s a much deeper crisis.”
— Os Guinness
We easily delude ourselves as Christians, or Muslims, or of any other faith or belief system, when we fail to recognise the universal problem within humanity of sin. Of course, it is the Christian faith that has the ultimate answer to the conundrum of sin.
Sin is the “much deeper crisis” Guinness alludes to.
The point of the above quote is sin is prevalent everywhere, and the church is simply a microcosm of the wider world. Sure, a significant proportion of the church may feature repentant types who readily acknowledge and confess their sin, but we’re back into our sinful personas in a millisecond—whether we call Christ “Lord” or not.
As Canon J. John once said, the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. Our hearts are wretched. This is a crisis that can only be addressed by our acceptance of Divine Grace. It is a crisis revealing the truth of our spiritual poverty without God. Through faith alone, through each moment’s humble obedience, can we attain to the standard of the Divine.
Sin is First a Personal Problem
God is far more interested in us taking our personal sin seriously than he is in us looking over the fence. Indeed, the fence—and all that is over it—is Jesus’ business; the Trinity’s alone.
Why are we so interested in castigating Islam or other systems of belief out of the range of ours, in ways that implicate us in sin? Such interest and action is generated out of self-righteousness.
Whenever we do look over the fence, noting others’ sin, we put up for jeopardy the intimacy we have with our Lord. Whenever we get involved in things “too marvellous for us” (i.e., intruding in the domain of God) our awareness of the depth of our personal sinfulness begins to wither from sight. We stand on a dangerous precipice of pride.
When we refuse the temptation to delve into the sinfulness of others—unless it’s our designated role (and rare are the times for roles like this)—we protect the sanctity of our relationship with God and we don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.
The reconciliation of the entire world, one person at a time, relies upon believing the truth that we’re all sinners—and that only faith in Christ can save us. We believe when we see our sin for what it is, and we see Jesus as the One who’s constructed a bridge from our brokenness to spiritual freedom: the hand-of-grace and the forgiveness of God to live by faith as saved sinners.
Salvation has nothing to do with judging others.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.