Saturday, November 12, 2011

A hierarchy

It's Saturday.  And in our house, if it's fall, Saturday means college football.  No matter what other tasks are on our lists, there's a football game in the background.  The house my parents built (not literally) when  I was in elementary school had an intercom system, so every Saturday afternoon in the autumn when the air was crisp, if our Washington State Cougars were on the road, that intercom was turned on so the game blared through every room in the house.  To this day, when I clean bathrooms or vacuum stairs (not that we even have stairs in this house) I expect a football game to be the background noise to my work. Hmm, maybe that's why I don't get to those tasks as often I as should.

Today Beve drove down to Seattle to go to some basketball tournament with E and left me with a couple of boxes of pictures to sort. So I turned on the tv, and began the task.  This week, of course, college football has been dominated by off-the-field news. Even if you aren't a sports fan, you have probably heard of the terrible events taking place in College Station, Pennsylvania.  Or I should say the revelation of events that have taken place there for who knows how long. 

Now I'm not writing this post to weigh in on the actual situation at Penn State. I don't know enough about it. But what has struck me this week is my own visceral reaction to the situation. I've been horrified.  As well I should be. We all should be, I suppose. As Beve and I have talked about this, we've talked about the difference between this and other NCAA violations, how those other things seem like nothing in comparison to the egregious criminality of this. I'd  be surprised to learn of any who disagree with our feelings about this. Abusing children in contrast to say, giving money to, or making phone-calls to, players? There's no contest.

But here's the thing: it tells me very clearly that despite what I've always said, and despite what scripture might say, I actually do believe some sins are worse than other. I try to pretend this isn't so, but inside I feel it.  The difference between a 'white lie' and raping a child? There's a fundamental difference to me.  And do I really think I'm no different than someone who murdered 6 million people (and more)? Of course I think I'm not the same as Hitler.  I'm certain of that.  And I believe that my child who doesn't tell me the truth about hitting her brother isn't the same as a man who is a serial killer.

That's my human, gut reaction. And let's get it on the table, we Christians, that we know this.  The rest of the world sees it clearly.  Even the smallest child can see the difference between such things... however...

However, those differences aren't the point.  The point isn't that there is a qualitative difference in sins, it's that ALL have sinned. And that 'the wages of sin is death.' That's the point. The cost of our sin is separation from God. And this is the heart of the matter. When my children were small, and there was some kind of inferno between them, they were always more than willing--anxious, actually--to tell me what the other had done to cause the fracas.  My response in such moments was always exactly the same, "NO, tell me about you!" Tell me what YOU have done. Tell me what YOU did to cause this problem.  It doesn't matter what the other person did, what anyone else is doing. Tell me about you.

That's the point of sin.  Positionally, all sin is the same. That is, sin separates us from God. Mine does--no matter what it is. And yours does--even if it's less than mine.  So each of us has the same responsibility with Him: to get right with Him.

Or, to be made right.  That's the other side of the coin, of course. We can't actually 'get right' on our own. We can repent. We must. But we can't clean ourselves. We can't make ourselves righteous. Only the clean can clean us. And the only clean around is HIM. Thankfully, He has made a way to clean us.  "He who confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believes in her heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved." Romans 13:9-10
Will be made clean.
 And whole. And righteous.
 It's that easy.
 And that life-changing.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

It is so easy to look at someone else and compare ourselves to them. Then maybe we don't look too bad. But you are right, that isn't the comparison that matters; it is the comparison between ourselves and God and we will never measure up on our own. Thanks for sharing!