38: Sin’s Significance

In this episode John and Gregg discuss listener feedback directed to both of them. The feedback to Gregg suggests that those who do not focus on grace are those who have not yet understood the enormity of their sin (on the example of the woman in Luke 7). The feedback sent to John concerns the difference between the older and the younger brother in the parable of the prodigal son, and expressed concern that John remain humble even though he has not had significant moments of acting against his Christian views or “sinfully.”

John clarifies that while he has a hard time seeing “the gravity of his sins and shortcomings,” in no way does he see himself as better than others, if anything he envies those who have had more overt experiences of God, such as the listener engaging with us.

Gregg responds that often he hears responses of gratitude and thankfulness to God’s grace or forgiveness but that the biblical text, in the context of forgiveness of sins Luke 7, presents the matter in much better way: “the one who has been forgiven much loves much.”  In other words, the most existentially fitting response to God, in this context, is to love.

Gregg goes on to question how we view sin.  Specifically, where Christians understand God primarily as sovereign, sin is a list of things that we have done wrong (i.e., ways in which we have not been obedient servants and so merit punishment or God’s disdain).  But where we see God as parent then sin acts or dispositions, conscious or preconscious, commissive or ommissive, which thwart my relationship with God.  Sin in this context does not drive God from me but moves me further from God.

So Gregg wonders, based on the reader’s comment, if s/he is referring not to Christians who fail to understand / bow to God’s sovereignty but instead to those who have not been transformed by experiencing God as parent: experiencing God’s profound love for them.

John responds that if the path to God is becoming aware of one’s sin (i.e., realizing “how bad” he is) he has found this to an unworkable path.  Gregg agrees: while there have been times when he needed seriously to consider the impact and negative consequences of his actions, he does believe that Christians are to be preoccupied with “the enormity of their sin” but rather with the enormity of God’s love for them.  When this is is their focus then Christians are oriented rightly to all things (to God, themselves, their fellows, the physical world). So in this context Gregg asks: How do we become preoccupied with God’s love for us?

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