Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sin Revisited

Day 22 of 29 Days of Spiritual Wellness.
29 Days Template (20)
The poet Kahlil Gibran has some interesting words to share with us:

"You are good when you are at one with yourself. Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil. For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is merely a divided house."

Hmm.

If we are not evil when we are not one with ourselves, then what are we?

We. Are. Still. Good.

This brings up the question of sin. How does it fit into this?

Do you get visions of little devils dancing around in your head?

The word for "sin" in the ancient Greek (in which the New Testament was written) is "hamartia" (ἁμαρτία), which transliterated means "miss the mark."

Over the centuries, the word sin has collected a lot of cultural and religious baggage. It was held over the heads of people to scare them into what churches (some, not all) and society considered "proper" behavior. It has been misused, abused, and taken out of context.

The best way to deal with sin is to understand it for what it is. Sin is what occurs when our God-given passions are out of alignment with one another. This is disharmony. It does not mean we, as beings, are "bad" or "evil." As Gibran put it, it is the result of "good tortured by its own hunger."

During the Dark Ages and Medieval times, most people were illiterate and uneducated; only priests and very wealthy people were educated, and because of this privilege, they were able to control (and manipulate) the masses for their purposes. And more often than not, they missed the mark by abusing their power with statements like, If you don't do this or that in the name of God, you're a sinner! You'll be damned and go straight to hell! You're made to feel guilty by others.

It's no wonder people began to fear the word (and God for that matter).

So, when we strip away all of the baggage and misinterpretations, we have a word with a simple definition that points toward the human condition. Because we are human, we are born with some abnormalities, thus the term "original sin."

We are not perfect.

We are born into ignorance. And if we are not careful, others will capitalize on that ignorance to bring out the worst in us or to keep us under their thumbs.

But the concept of "original sin" is not without its flaws. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy because it expects the worst in human nature. This puts all responsibility on God instead of on us. How selfish of us.

Yet, if we are created in God's image and likeness, this means that God is not the only creator in the creation process. If God is not the only creator, who else is involved?

We are.

This means we are responsible for what happens. We are good people who sometimes do bad things. We miss the mark.

But when we are at one with ourselves -- when we are at one with our Creator -- we hit our target each time.

Gibran knew this, as did Jesus. Jesus knew we weren't perfect, but he taught that we could strive toward perfection, or wholeness: "Therefore, be perfect [whole], even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Mt 5:48).

Sin is nothing more than a misdirection of our energies, away from our authentic selves and away from God. The biggest sin is remaining ignorant and blind to our authentic selves by letting our flaws (and others) hold us down.

We are perfect in our creation, though not always in our behavior, and if we want wholeness in our lives, then we must be willing to take responsibility for our actions because we are co-partners -- co-creators -- with God.

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