Wednesday, October 24, 2007


It is a fundamentally difficult thing to say "I have sinned" - especially in today's culture of political correctness. First of all it sounds religious and suspiciously Christian. What we hear more often is "I made a mistake" or "that was poor judgement on my part" or most tragically an action/mistake/error is denied only to be revealed later as completely true. Certain sports celebrities come to mind (can anyone say Floyd Landis or Carl Lewis?) and a recent article in the London Times was titled "Denial is as endemic as drug-taking in athletics."

Somehow to admit that "I am a sinner and in need of redemption" is to fly in the face of our culture of self-esteem, "I'm OK, You're OK" and "spinning" the truth. In fact, I think it would cause a media stir if someone seriously stated "I have sinned!" And if someone went even further and stated "I am a sinner in need of the grace of God" it would probably be considered offensive and inflammatory. To say "I am lost" or "ruined" almost implies intolerance or self-loathing. People may be quick to excuse their mistakes or shortcomings with a "well, nobody's perfect" but won't go the next step to admit their own fundamental lostness - and we truly are lost without the grace of God.

I think the word "lost" is actually a good description of the state of much of the world. What does "lost" mean? It implies that one is on a journey from a point of origin going to a destination but somehow along the way a turn was missed (or a few turns) and now one is in an unrecognizable place and in a place one doesn't know how to get out of. One may not even know s/he is lost because s/he didn't even know s/he was on a journey. Even many who claim to know God are not not moving toward the right destination or are unsure about the nature of their journey and are also lost. Admitting one's lostness is actually the first step to becoming found.

We all feel lost sometimes. But so often pride gets in the way of us asking for help or asking for direction. To offer direction for people who are lost has become the biggest social faux pas in our society. Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart says it this way:

"Is it insulting to suggest that someone is or may be lost? That his or her soul is ruined? No doubt in our hypersensitive, egotistical age, that could be insulting to some people. But that merely illustrates the delusional human condition [the fundamental pride of putting oneself at the centre of the universe]. If I am god, people shouldn't say such things to me.

Lostness is a factual condition of the self, of the ruined soul. You either have it or not, just as you either have or do not have a certain physical disease that can kill you. If you have that condition of lostness, you may not know it. Indeed, it is most likely you will not know it, because it is inherently a condition of self-blindness. You need treatment nevertheless, if you are not to be lost forever, and being informed of your condition and what to do about it can help you find relief. Should I say nothing to you merely because you might find it insulting? I must think more highly of you than that. The reality of evil in the human heart is not something to be ignored or treated lightly."

I've been taking a closer look at my heart, at my journey. I'm wondering if I'm wandering around aimlessly, or if I am still pointing in the right direction and moving at the right pace to make it to my destination.

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