Hello, everyone. This blog has moved to JOHNVOELZ.COM!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Punished "by" our Sin #2

We like to focus on particular sins.

• If I stop doing “this thing” I will be cool with God.
• If I do “this thing” I better pray afterward so I will be forgiven and God won’t smack me.

If you’ve ever seen The Sound of Music, you probably remember the song where Maria sings, “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.” This song is her way of explaining how she’s ending up with the newly repentant and kind Christopher Plummer who has come to his senses and swept her off her feet.

What’s inherent in the song is the other side of this erroneous theology. She just as well could have sung a different song if she had been captured by Nazi’s and forced to marry Colonel Klink. “Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something really, really bad.”

So, a popular notion is our individual sins either stack up or we do something so incredibly bad that God decides to punish us with whatever he dreams up. As if we are puppies. Do good, get a cookie. Pee on the floor and get the crap beat out of us.

We focus on individual sins.

One of the things I love about AA is it never says “alcohol is your problem. Stop drinking. Drinking is dumb. Every time you drink an angel cries. Do you want to make angels cry?”

(As a kid, I heard the saying that every time someone masturbates, God kills a kitten. Not a cat—which is no big deal. A helpless kitten).

No, AA takes you back a bit and makes you think through the larger issue. The deeper problem. The symptoms of that problem.

A better rendering or understanding of the Exodus passage we read may be:

Yahweh—Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand [generations], forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave [the guilty] unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers' wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Few can argue with the consequences of our wrongdoing. Fathers (and mothers) who have horrible habits and toxic choices will see effects in their children that will cause them great internal turmoil and pain.

The Bible doesn’t negate individual transgressions by any means but it always refers to the “things” as the symptoms of something much larger.

It’s not about the “rules.”

And, furthermore, it’s not about keeping rules to somehow gain brownie points.

It’s not about towing the line for an eternal reward—if I just do enough good, it will balance out the bad and the legal ledger will balance out.

It s not just about AFTERlife. It’s about an ALTEREDlife.

blog comments powered by Disqus