“On falling short of the glory.”

It’s an anticlimax, really. “I have sinned..”, Says the king. No kidding!

David has, in short order, seen a woman bathing and decided she should be his.

He summons her to the residence – takes her to his bed –

then arranges to put her husband in harms way.

Once Uriah is ‘out of the way’, he marries Bathsheeba and goes on about his royal business.

I have sinned, he says.

We are quick to acknowledge that this kind of behaviour,

as common as it now seems among the famous and powerful,

should not be rewarded, but we are less likely to call their behaviour SIN.

We reserve that word for special circumstances:

the outrageous behaviour of the privileged people of the world, we accept with a shrug.

That is the way they are – there s nothing to stop the mighty from exercising their might.

We do not give SIN it’s due – we have lost sight of the true nature of SIN.

We speak generally of our sins, hoping that our religious observance might excuse them,

but we are soft on SIN.

 

So what is SIN – what have we forgotten; what are we missing?

Let’s pretend that this is another time,

and that the key to life is answering this one question correctly (What is SIN) –

because if you can identify is, you can avoid it,

and then Heaven is yours – gold medal – top of the class.

So – here’s the task; Answer the question – what is SIN?

Is the question too big?

The classical definition – the theologian’s definition – is that sin is the separation from God.

So apply that to David’s situation: What is David’s SIN?

Sex? Murder? Pride? What???

 

David’s confession does not help us determine how he went wrong.

He was rich & powerful…not a sin

He was (as a young man) handsome – still no sin.

He is described as a man after God’s own heart! Is it a sin to be human then?

 

As much as we are fascinated with finding new ways to behave badly

(and as happy as we are to catalogue the sins of others)

these typically human behaviours that David exhibits are not SIN.

Sex & murder are two of humanities favourite pastimes,

and we have found ways as a society to make our pursuit of these pastimes completely legitimate.

Both are sanctioned under civil law –

under the heading of mutual consent where sex is concerned,

and in the name of national defense for murder.

 

The act is not the SIN,

the sin is the desire that drives us to want what is not ours, or to want more than we can use.

The sin is to covet our neighbours goods, or status, or contentment, or self-assurance, or peace.

When you consider it like this, it is easier to answer the question “what is Sin”,

and much more frightening too.

 

David’s SIN? Jealousy.

Uriah’s wife was the most beautiful woman of the moment, and shouldn’t the king have only the best?

David’s SIN? The competitive urge to “improve your standing”; to be better than the next fellow in every way.

A distance from God that made David think that god-like status was his right – all these encompass David’s SIN, and this is our SIN too – the foundational SIN, if you will.

If it has one name, it is desire – a compulsion to want

 

Do we understand SIN better now? Are you uncomfortable yet?

I am. For I have sinned: yesterday – today – and tomorrow, unless I miss my guess.

Not only that, but I live in a time and place where I am encouraged to SIN –

dare I say, expected to sin.

 

Commercial enterprise depends on my wanting things I don’t need.

Societal expectations are strangely arranged to criticize those who do not want to improve themselves,

to defy time and look (and act) younger than we are.

It begins at a very young age, as even our children are urged to succeed at everything

beyond the ordinary range of ambition.

We have moved beyond encouragement to something darker –

a sense that it is no longer enough to be competent and capably – we expect everyone to be outstanding.

 

To love what you do, and striving to do your best –

these are admirable things but we have been infected by the myth of constant improvement –

no limits on excellence – and that has left us in an impossible situation.

The culture of success at any cost has become the constant reminder of our SIN –

it is – for better and worse – very much a part of who we are –

it creates our heroes and our villains.

(and in the middle of an Olympiad, it is tempting  to make the connection between this SIN and our obsession with success in athletics…)

 

And because it is so much a part of what makes us human,

we might think it normal – even a desirable trait –

until we meet Jesus.

 

 

 

Jesus. Who helps us understand that nothing is more desirable than the love of God.

Jesus – who suggests that not even a miraculous multiplication of loaves & fish

can compare to the steady supply of grace that God provides.

Our desires become hurtful when they ignore the needs of our neighbours

when we selfishly seek that which will satisfy –

Our desire can lead to good and gracious acts – lasting relationships – work that benefits, rather than harms –.

but when it springs from a place of self-protection, or from a flawed self-image,

it produces bullies instead of benefactors: dictators rather than difference makers.

 

Jesus would help us love ourselves as we are –

by meeting our anxieties, and our desire for superiority head on

with the gentle compassion of one who knows that control, or power,

or superiority in any thing (or in everything) are properly given to God –

thus lifting the worrying pursuit of the impossible off of our shoulders.

Jesus delivers us from the sin of desire – the sin of wanting what is not ours –

by reminding us that God has provided all we need –

there is no “first second or third” in the kingdom of God – there is no “us”, no “them”.

There is God, and that is enough.

 

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