When I was growing up, the Gospel that I was taught was the “Gospel of Sin Management”. People need to learn how to control their bodily urges (which ultimately led to a belief that the body is evil), and they wouldn’t allow them to express what they were feeling or thinking (which always leads to a moment when the repression becomes a disaster). Most of the people I know felt such shame for their sin, or what I would rather call our “moral failures”, that they ended up hating who they are. As we see when the first sin happens in the Bible, Adam and Eve hid from God. This ironically, separates ourselves from the love and grace that allows us to overcome our sin.
People in my life have felt frustrated or concerned with me because I don’t talk much about sin. I recognize sin as the existential disease that haunts us all. The beauty of the Enneagram (which I recommend to everyone) is that it will reveal to you to your deepest sin, your deepest failures. As a four, I can’t begin to tell you how much of my own personal struggles are simply rooted in the fact that I struggle with envy. I see everything that is missing inside of me and find it in others (which leads to a complacency and struggle with accepting and loving this moment). I will struggle with envy for the rest of my life. It’s the incurable disease that I was wounded with. Luckily though, the wound of envy is so centrally located to my being that I am able to be aware of it, recognize its patterns, and move past it (even though it always stays with me). Unless we are aware of our sin and being to change our patterns of thinking and living around, they will always tyrannize over us. Without proper awareness, we will never change the world. Transformed people, transform people. Everything we do has an affect on those around us.
One of the great things I love about God is his ability to use all of the playing field. We are reminded that what was intended for evil God uses for God. This ought to alleviate some of the shame of our personal failures. Paradoxically, our failures can often lead to our greatest successes. Where we struggle with sin the most can often become a great source of discipline, strength, and, even more, a source of hope and joy for others. Soren Kierkegaard once said that “to despair over sin causes us to fall into the sin of despair.” We were not meant to hate ourselves for sinning, that only causes us to hide even more. What we are meant to do is to repent, which really means to turn around, to change our minds. By present to our failures, by accepting our failures, and by sharing them with others, we are welcomed into a beautiful journey of using what was bad for good. This is God’s plan for reconciling all things to himself. God is making all things new. The death in us will not forever be death. This is the hope of the resurrection.