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Shifting our focus from sin to Jesus

January 29, 2013

I think we’ve made a wrong turn somewhere, and this isn’t something we can blame on Apple Maps. What is with Christians’ obsession with sin? We are so preoccupied with not sinning. I guess that makes us pretty good at managing our sin, but I don’t think sin management and behavior modification is really what God has in mind for us. And all our obsessing about sin has made us lose sight of Jesus. It’s as if people don’t realize Jesus made us righteous and holy. He finished the job. He’s sitting down. Why can’t we rest at his feet?

Maybe we could start to spend less time and energy on avoiding all the sin and more time and energy on being with Jesus. People tend to notice that (Acts 4:13). It makes a pretty good witness. If we stopped trying to nail down every jot and tittle of what we believe, if we stopped looking for sin around every corner and in other people’s lives, and we began to just sit at Jesus’ feet, I think he’d like that (Luke 10:41).

I know some will argue that we’ve got to know what we believe, that we can’t just run around willy-nilly not thinking about sin. If we did, then we’d surely get ourselves in trouble. I’d agree, except for the fact that what I’m advocating is spending more time with Jesus. Don’t you think our nearness to him would make us realize all the beliefs we’re so worried about getting right can be summed up in Jesus? Don’t you think if we spent more time with him, we’d eventually realize that Jesus is not the way for us to get a handle on our sin? That maybe this Christian thing isn’t about being good little girls and boys? That maybe it’s really about . . . Jesus?

Sin is a sneaky son-of-a-bitch, I know. But I think the worst thing about sin isn’t that it makes us dirty and ugly and unacceptable to God. It’s that it makes us take our eyes off Jesus. It makes us doubt God or want to be God. It makes us move away from him. But here’s the thing. The solution isn’t trying our damndest to resist sin. Ah, see, doing that makes us focus on sin (again, sneaky son-of-a-bitch!) No, the solution is getting closer and closer to Jesus. The more we spend time with Jesus, the more we see God’s goodness, and the more we trust him. And when we do sin (which we will), we’ll see God’s goodness and compassion instead of his condemnation, and we’ll run to him for forgiveness. We’ll see Jesus, not as the forgiveness vending machine, but as the radiance of God’s glory. (God’s glory, by the way, is his goodness. He says so in Exodus 33:18,19.)

So, how do we spend more time with Jesus? Here’s a place I like to hang out:

Psalm 23:1-3:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

My version:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”
When Jesus looks after us, we don’t need anything, nothing, not one extra thing, nada! Jesus knows exactly what we need when we need it, because he is what we need.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures,”
With Jesus, I am as satisfied as a cow that has eaten to her heart’s content and lies down with a full belly in a pasture so lush she is surrounded by green grass growing all around all around, green grass growing all around – cow heaven.

“He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”
Jesus leads me to water, but he can’t make me drink. If I do drink, my soul is made whole. And this water is not a raging river with rapids and rocks. It’s a calm and lazy stream so crisp and clear you can see straight to the bottom, and so pure it refreshes me to my core, to the deepest and darkest places in me.

Okay, I bet you stopped thinking about not sinning for a whole two minutes there. See? It works!

Once we get a taste of this Jesus, there’s no turning back to the absurdity of managing sin and modifying behavior. Maybe then we won’t care so much about getting it right, because Jesus already did. And maybe then we’d realize it’s not about us and all the sin, it’s about Jesus and his kingdom and his glory.

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