Thursday, July 19, 2007

What is Sin?

"Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself."
-- Susanna Wesley (Letter, June 8, 1725)

General Rules of the UMC:
First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced;
Secondly: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all [persons];
Thirdly: By attending upon all the ordinances of God.

Romans 14: 13-21
13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another. 14I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification. 20Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; 21it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.

I struggle with what is sin and what is not sin. I struggle that we Methodists allow all sorts of sin to prosper within our gatherings. Yet, did not Jesus eat with sinners? And how better for a sinner to understand the commands and ordinances of God than to listen to the Word proclaimed and to live in community with Godly people?

We Methodists have this understanding of moving on to perfection -- that we are looking to live in Holiness of Heart and Life. How can a person understand what that perfection is if they are cast out of the fellowship? On the other hand, how can the fellowship survive intact if sin continues in its midst? Ah, a conundrum.

We must allow the sinners to remain in our midst but reprove them in love (Rev 3). We must speak truth in love (Eph 4). How can it be loving to allow a sister or brother to continue in sin? But we also must lead with grace and not judgment, for we a no longer judged as unrighteous, but as righteous.

My 2 cents worth.

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