Why are we still talking about our sin?

I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person. In fact, I pride myself on the fact that I disagree with and am innately prone to rebelling against doctrines, creeds, dogmas, boundaries and rules. I tend to live on the fringe of Christianity and don’t fit in with other Christians. I drink too much wine, am irresponsible and cuss frequently. In recent weeks I have been staying in a friends guest bedroom, which is a converted storage room. The lack of distraction and shelves full of books about God has allowed me to mull over my own insides and draw nearer to him who made me. In this time with him I have come to realize that religiosity, no matter how much I hate it, reverberates inside of me. It yells what is “good” and “bad”. It comes in sheep’s clothing, pretending to be God, but it isn’t. It is my own brand of religion, a culmination of judgements and the voices of pastors, religious folks and Christian leaders that have made an impression on me for the past 25 years of my life. “God is not condemning you, no matter how you live. God is love and is the only one who truly and unconditionally loves you without reservation.” -Gary Sigler. I came across an interesting facebook post by this man, Gary Sigler. It got me thinking about Gods love, where the root of condemnation really comes from and how religion was born.

“You have two trees to live by. You can live in the deepest recesses of your being where there is life and it is Gods life. Also, in the middle of your garden [figuratively speaking] is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Christians need to know that the root of the cause of everything in the world that is religious, sinful or negative comes from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You see, God said to Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?” Before that happened evidently Adam and Eve were naked, but it was no problem. Who told us it was wrong to take a drink? Who told us it was wrong to do anything? Who told us we were sinners? Not God but our preachers and religious leaders. The sin issue has been dealt with. What we need now is to live by life, light and love.” -Gary Sigler

I sat there for a while drinking my coffee, mulling this over. I was picturing the two trees inside of me. The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the tree of Life. And then it dawned on me. There was no religion in the world before sin. Just as there was no poverty in indigenous cultures before money was introduced to them. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of Knowledge they were told they were naked and that it was wrong, so they hid. Suddenly, there was a set of rules because they were aware of what was “good” and “evil”. But who told them that? Not God. It was Satan. He introduced the world to religion, not God. The bible never says the name of the tree was the tree of Sin, but the Knowledge of  Good and Evil, the knowledge of sin in the world.

The more I am learning who God is, the more I’m realizing who he is not. He is not whacking us over the head or grimacing in a corner because of our “bad stuff”. In fact, I think it is very hard for him to see anything bad when he is looking at us always through the lens of pure love and delight. The Aztecs believed that the devil walked a straight line, so they grew their crops in a zig-zag. Gods world is messy and we are messy with him. It is the enemy who walks a straight line, who convinces us that we are sinners and that we need a regimen to be pure and to be closer to God. But this is a lie. Jesus destroyed that lie when he came and died for the world, that means all of us. We no longer need to go through a priest, or preacher, or go to church somewhere to be with God. Nor do we need to be incessantly confessing our sins to him. So, why are we still talking about our sin? Realize it, cry over it, give it to him and move on forever from it. The only thing Jesus ever stressed was for us to love one another as we love ourselves. But how can I love myself when I’m straddling two huge trees? Its exhausting. And I can’t love you or God or anybody if I cannot first love myself. I want to live from the tree of Life. But I consistently go back under the branches of the tree that reminds me of my imperfection and dirtiness. It convinces me that I need to organize and compartmentalize every bit of truth that the Father gives me, but this, again, is religion and is not from God. I implore you to take a second look at what religion has convinced you of about yourself and what your Creator is saying about you.

 

What has been your experience with religion? Leave a comment below!

 

Posted in On God, Self Help | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Why are we still talking about our sin?

  1. Alissa says:

    Thanks for sharing your heart with grit and honesty Steph.

  2. Peter says:

    I take a different stance. There are rules, and these are laws made for us by God. The Law was given to the Jews in the desert so that they would know, and be daily reminded, that God called them his own and that he cared for them enough to desire their right actions. We are sinners, but we are not only sinners. Jesus not only forgives our sins but also says “go and sin no more.”

    We cannot save ourselves through our discipline or purity–that was done for us, once and for all–but we frequently need discipline to maintain our relationship with God, and Church can play a vital part in that.

    Church forces me to take time out. Some weeks I go to church for my needs, some weeks I go for other people. I think others do the same for me. I sit with people struggling with problems like mine, and unlike mine, and we come together to praise our maker. There are things that we can do together that we simply cannot apart. I can play piano on my own, but to play in a gospel band…that is something and I feel power in it. Maybe some can worship God on their own in the same way, but I cannot. The church can be, and has been, a powerful tool to aid me along the way, and I am grateful for the depth and breadth of its people.

    I think our love of our ourselves–and our thirst for that–is often part of the problem. We will never be able to love ourselves in the way that God loves us, certainly not on this plane. We cannot know the trajectory of our lives, or the long-term rewards or costs of our decisions; God does, and he loves us still! Our love gives way to pride, self-loathing, or self-justification too easily. Though refine it as we may, our love will never reach the purity of God’s love. It is our nature. But it is not God’s nature, and we can love Him for that.

    We do not need to first love ourselves before we can love God, and, for me, his word is clear on that. In the Gospel, salvation is freely available to those who repent and follow, and many people who despised themselves were saved by Jesus. That is God’s radical acceptance of us. We can decide what we do with that knowledge, and I personally feel that God does not want us to be crushed under our sins; however, confession and repentance can allow us to feel their weight for a time, and to more fully experience God’s forgiveness when that weight is lifted.

    Jesus’ greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, and body. His second commandment was to love our neighbors as ourselves. Without the first, we cannot truly do the second. I cannot wait until I love myself to love God. It cannot be a barrier, and my ability to love my self–if it is true love–can come only from Him.

    • Hi Peter,

      Thank you so much for your comment. You bring up good points and I don’t disagree with all of them. I am an imperfect person and I want all who read my post to know that what I say is not total truth or anything like that, in fact there might be a lot of wrong in it. One must go to God and to his Word to confirm what He really thinks about the points I brought up. I am happy for you that Church has had such a positive effect on you, that’s exactly what Church should be. Unfortunately for me, Church from a young age had a negative effect on me and strongholds have been set up in my mind because of it. The Lord is helping to tear down those strongholds, but it takes time.

      I wrote this post so that people who are hurting and have been hurt by religion or religious people could know that they are not alone and that God does not see them that way. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with finding a home church and reaping the fruit of the discipline in attending and in finding closeness to God and friendships with other believers in a church setting.

      I talk about the love thing because recently I have been realizing that I do need to love myself to love God more and that is simply what I believe. I don’t mean humanly love for oneself, but radical, supernatural love that only God can give. I believe that he wants us to love ourselves as fully as we love him, because after all, he is in us and we are in him. What type of a relationship will we have with God if we walk into it saying “I will never love you as much as you love me”? Not a very good one in my opinion. So as we love ourselves righteously, we are loving him and in loving him we learn to love ourselves as he loves us. I’m not talking about worldly love for oneself which comes in the form of selfishness, self-complacency and pride covering up deep insecurity and like you said, self-loathing. I’m talking about loving ourselves out of the deep recesses of our being. Usually that takes going to the depths of oneself and confronting and overcoming the lies we believed of ourselves from a very young age. Only God can show us the way to those deep places, bring healing and freedom and finally true love refined in the fire. Then we are able to love him from that place in fullness and in my opinion, can grow to love him as much as he loves us.

      Thank you again for reading and for your thoughts!

  3. Noah says:

    I love this. A great reminder that God is Love. We are loved. It is not what we do but who we are. I agree that what counts is the ‘Love Your God, Love Your Neighbor’ of Jesus and his rabbi Hillel.

  4. Greg says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Stephanie. I like your critique of the political power given to religious institutions… I agree that it is good to guard ourselves from being shepherded by wolves… and we all can be wolves when we judge. I also like the way Peter explained his reasons for going to church… I think I’m on that same page in terms of church as a diverse community gathering for worship and praise of our Creator and Savior.

    Where I’m at in my life now, I think God does notice when I mess up… even though Jesus’ gift of grace wipes it away. I don’t believe it’s good to dwell on times I mess up. I agree that it is best to dwell on the love God puts in our hearts. I think learning about how Jesus does extend grace and how we should do that for ourselves is really difficult! Finally, I guess a key concept for me is that it’s still OK to reflect (not dwell) on mistakes we make since that allows us to find ways to prevent from repeating them… to grow in God’s love to be more like Christ. And doing this is so much better in community than in isolation! That, in my mind, is why God notices my mistakes… so that he can celebrate like crazy when we continually learn and grow in Christ.

    Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and giving me a chance (by asking for comments!) to reflect. Maranatha!

  5. terry payne says:

    Stephanie I loved your thoughts it has gods love all over it. In 1 john I think it says if you are born of God you can not sin. When you have regenerated your spirit cannot sin as abba only talks to our spirit. Sin is a mistaken identity so Jesus wiped it out forever when he resurrected. Some of us are like the children of Israel who wanted rules instead of father talking to them. I can relate to Jesus when he says at 12 I am in my fathers house. In father’s house there’s life as son or daughter of the king. Too many live in mothers house where there were rules. A child needs rules but there is a time where that child has graduated and now no longer lives in mothers house. Mothers house could be the church you grew up in where thats all you knew. Today is a new era happening right now and my friend father says you are in fathers house now, being in mothers house was a season. Peace and light:)

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