I am a sinner!
The Apostle Paul listed the sins that keep us from God. “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Corinthians 6: 9-10) I won’t tell you how many on this list I have marked with my own sinfulness. I will tell you like I confessed to the church; no one has ever accused me of being a male prostitute. So you are left with the rest of the list of sins to figure out which sins I might have committed.
I do not mean to be a sinner. I love my wife, children, grandchildren and dogs. I love 100% of the membership of the Methodist church. I like 99.96% of them, after all God said I got to love them, but I don’t gotta like all of ‘em. I think Natchitoches is a great place to live and I’m a good citizen. In traffic, I don’t cut you off nor flip you off, most of the time. I vote early and often.
I meet my deadlines for the various publications that publish my various words. I try to be a good Doug all of the time. The major temptation in my life is Blue Bell. Now that Blue Bell ice cream is back in my refrigerator, I am working on the spiritual discipline of self-denial of the frozen blessedness. I have only gone through a couple of gallons since that wonderful treat re-appeared. As I said, I am a sinner!
Sin is like this. One day recently I was throwing on my dress shirt. I was not paying attention to what I was doing. The top button I lined up with the wrong button hole. The rest of the way down my shirt was off. You can’t button your shirt correctly if you get the top button wrong. That is what sin does in our relationships and to our lives; it throws us one bubble off of plumb.
Now before you go “holier than thou” on me, consider this:
One time, D.L. Moody went to meet Charles Spurgeon at Spurgeon’s house in London. Spurgeon had been Moody’s hero and, from a distance, his teacher. When Spurgeon answered the door with a cigar in his mouth, Moody practically fell down the stairs in shock. Looking up at Spurgeon, he gasped, “How could you, a man of God, smoke that?”
Spurgeon took the stogie out of his mouth and walked down the steps to where Moody was still standing in confusion. Putting his index finger on Moody’s rather rotund stomach, he smiled, “The same way you, a man of God, could be that fat.”
There is no upside to sin. It is destructive. Our world is crazy, evil and mean because we live in a fallen world. We are all sinners and when sinners act out of their nature, bad stuff happens. The problems of culture can’t be fixed with more money, marching behind the slogans on a banner, another program, coming together or more education. Our world is going to hell in a handbasket because there are seven billion sinners alive and active right now.
Sin is not the only story, there is an antidote.
A father caught his son smoking. “You know my displeasure in you right now,” he admonished the boy. “I’ve always told you I would punish you severely if I ever caught you smoking. You deserve three smacks across your bottom with my belt.”
Thereupon, the father got his belt, but he hit the boy only once. Then he sent his son up to his room. (Before you get your liver in a quiver, this used to be the way it was. My mother had a stick she used to stir paint. It was colorful and effective for discipline.)
A short time later, the father climbed the stairs to his son’s room and asked, “Would you like to go out and get some ice cream?” Sitting in the ice cream parlor, the father said, “You do know that when I caught you smoking you deserved three smacks with my belt?”
“You noticed that you got only one, didn’t you?”
“Son, that is mercy, and I want you to remember the lesson. Are you enjoying your ice cream?”
“Son, the ice cream is grace. Remember that too.”