Last week as Christmas came to an end, we decided to take down our decorations. I really do not know which is worse, hanging the greens or taking them down. Now Jessica likes to decorate and every year Jessica is always sad when we have to take down the decorations. On the other hand I am just annoyed. It is sad in a certain way because it is the end of a great season, but annoyed because I have to lug down all the boxes and totes from storage and then put them back again, I guess that is my role in life. As we packed up the tree, because we have a fake one, every year the floor is covered in green pine needles. We have had both real and fake trees and the results are the same. So we vacuum the needles up. Now this was last week and yet those needles are just everywhere. It seems they multiply as they are vacuumed up. Every time I vacuum I find more and more needles. They’re just everywhere. Every time I find them I pick or vacuum them up. As I noticed this weird phenomenon I began to think about how we live our lives.
Most people have this crazy notion that the things we say or do are our personal sayings and doings. Since we make personal choices, whoever does not like it can deal with it. We seem to have this individualized idea about our actions. Take sin for example, generally we talk about our personal sin. What we are personally struggling with. The problem with this thinking is that there is no such thing as personal sin. The Greek word for sin and the word used in the New Testament basically means “missing the mark.” Sort of like an archery target. Sin is not hitting the bullseye. When we discuss sin in Christianity the bullseye that we miss is not living as God has created us to live. Sin is not about following a set of rules of “do’s” and “don’ts” but it is about not living as humans. This is why I do not accept the statement, “I am human therefore I sin.” In fact the truth is exactly the opposite. To sin is to be unhuman.
As I was saying there is no personal sin because sin affects everything. Think of it like a stone thrown into a pool. The stone started the splash and the ripples spread about the pool. Or think of it as my Christmas tree needles, they just get everywhere. Sin acts in the same way, it creates ripples or just gets everywhere. True, we each struggle with specific sins, but to say that I am the only one struggling with that sin is false or that my sin does not affect anyone else but myself is false. Sin is an ever present reality that effects us all. Maybe that is why the Psalmist states this in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion! Wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! Because I know my wrongdoings, my sin is always right in front of me.“ My sin is ever before me. Even when I ask for forgiveness or correct my wrong actions I still have to deal with the ripples it makes. I have to live with the people whom I have wronged. One reason why I love Jesus Christ is because of how He reconciles all things. As 2 Corinthians states, “God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them.” Not only does Christ forgive us from missing the mark, but He also mends the damage that sin causes. Now I know that it does not happen over night, reconciliation takes time, but just like the pine needles that are everywhere, one of these days I will not see those pesky needles anymore.
May you realize that all your actions affect people. May you come to know the forgiveness and reconciliation that we receive from Jesus Christ. May God help you clean up all those needles…