(58) the forgiveness of sins

God has a plan for his world, but that plan is always suffering setbacks because of things that people do and don’t do. Some men may sin spectacularly, wrecking God’s world and unleashing havoc on their fellowmen. Ordinarily we make trouble mostly by dealing with people deceitfully and handling them lovelessly. A sin is any kind of living that is foreign to the Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is any kind of action or inaction that hinders communion between man and man, or man and God. Sometimes I have had opportunities to take real steps forward toward God’s goal—the communion of all men in holy love. But instead of building up good relations between people, I have sometimes set up tensions, distances, and strained relations.

Some of the currents of life are moving God’s way and others aren’t. I haven’t always taken God’s side and gone along with him. Instead I have actually gone along with, even helped, whatever is trying to tear down what God has been trying to build up. I have resisted the Holy Spirit’s efforts to get me more deeply involved with other people’s lives for Christ’s sake. This kind of thing that hurts and holds back God, other people, and myself is sin. Even if I whitewash my sins with nice respectable names like mistakes, sickness, or unfortunate lapses, nevertheless I have sinned. I find that I can excuse myself for doing just about anything, or not doing it. When I’m through with the snow job. what I did doesn’t sound like sin at all. I can blame somebody else, try to forget it, hide it, deny it, or make out that it’s really only a trivial matter. But nevertheless I know that things are just not right between God and me and my fellowman. Something down deep inside me festers like the root of a forgotten tooth and spreads its poison throughout my whole life. Something ticks away down in there like a time bomb that sooner or later is going to wreck me. My sin has got to be dealt with somehow, neutralized and deactivated.

It’s strange how sin usually looks like the smart thing to do until somebody’s done it. Sin is so fascinating that often people eagerly seek it. But afterward, when they’re running away, it bumps along after them. It’s now a part of their life. What has been done has been done, and it will have devastating effects on more and more people. Many a life will be crushed in the path of the avalanches of misery that have been started by seemingly simple sins.

But surely I have never done anything terrible? What did I ever do to hurt anybody? I should ask, What have I not done to help people? I just lived for myself in a world of lost, miserable folk who were left to die, unloved and alone. I just ate my regular three meals a day and slept peacefully, while over half the world went to bed hungry. I have just put my feet up, read in the paper about a world full of tortured souls, then yawned unconcerned and nodded off. Maybe my idea of a good life is a horrible nightmare to God! How many people are suffering just now because of something I didn’t do that I might have done? Lord, forgive me my debts as well as my trespasses!