Friday, May 22, 2009

Downplaying Sin

Today, Trae runs again in the 200 and 400 Relay. A top-three finish today places her into the Clovis District meet next Friday at Clovis East.

As for Memorial Day weekend, looks like three trips to Oakhurst for us. Tonight and tomorrow, we got to Paradise Springs for the rehearsal and wedding ceremony of James Robinson and Jen Garcia. Monday is the annual YBC Bar-B-Q Feast. I have been invited to guest speak at the event and look forward to the fellowship with other friends of YBC throughout the Valley.

Hope you all have a blessed Memorial Day holiday, especially all of you going to Hume Lake -- you make me insanely jealous!


Done with Detroit. It couldn't come soon enough!


Several weeks ago, my friend Allan wrote a penetrating piece on how everything is a salvation issue. As Allan astutely points out, our contemporary application of church has lost sight of that reality behind a vast array of categories.

Big versus Small. Major versus Minor. Salvation issue versus Non-salvation issue.

Just think about violating commands (sin). Our mental and practical tendency is to imitate those who approached Jesus looking to have the commandments categorized (cf. Mat. 22.34-40). We want to know what command is greater so we don't violate the greater commands.

What is striking, though, is how the ministry of Jesus often shines the light on the commands/sins we deem as minor.

Luke 4.14-21 has often been called Jesus' ministry manifesto. As he reads from Isaiah 61 in his hometown synagogue, Jesus dramatically declares the fulfillment of the Scripture. Among other things, Jesus promises to "proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." In effect, Jesus is saying that Jubilee, a command of the Old Testament, would be realized in him (cf. Lev. 25). Jubilee was to be celebrated every fiftieth year among God's children. It was a year when debts were cancelled, slaves were freed, and land was redistributed.

It was a command - just like "Do not murder...Do not commit adultery...Do not steal." And yet, there is no historical evidence Jubilee was ever practiced!

Why not? Apparently, it got categorized as a "lesser" commandment. Apparently, the people in power had no interest in relinquishing it through the natural leveling effect of Jubilee. But with the onset of Jesus' ministry that "lesser" commandment becomes the very focal point.

We fall prey to this same dilemma of categorizing and responding in light of the categories as we define them in the church today. We disfellowship the adulterer, all the while overlooking pride. We couldn't conceive of condoning murder, all the while winking at greed. In fact, we often applaud pride and greed --we call it "frugality" and "industry" and slap laudable labels to sins that destroy relationships between people, just like more "major" sins like adultery and bearing false witness.

In commenting on Luke 4.14-30, Darrell Bock marvels, "I am always left wondering when I consider Jesus' ministry as a whole that although he challenged all sin, he tended to be clearer about the more subtle sins we tend to downplay."