Union Ridge Church

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

by Reverend Dan on April 7, 2021
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
                                                                        Romans 3:23
One of my favorite exchanges on the Andy Griffith show is when Barney and Andy are talking to the preacher one day after church. Barney had been nodding through the sermon, but when he leaves, he tells the preacher, “Good sermon, Reverend. You can ever talk too much about sin.” The problem was the preacher didn’t preach about sin that day.
Sin is the bane of human existence. Everyone sins. Everyone. And when we sin, we must repent. But practically speaking, what does repentance look like?
While that might seem like an easy question, it’s really not. Do you just confess your sins and be done with it? Or are you supposed to think about it? (What your parents used to mean when they said, “I want you to go to your room and think about what you did.” I heard them say that to my brothers.)
The question of what we should do about our sin is an incredibly difficult one for us as human beings, whether you’re a Christian or not. At some point in almost everyone’s life, the realization that you’ve done something wrong hits, and you realize that no matter what you do, you’re helpless to “fix” it. We can “address” it, but the consequences of sin will remain.
So, what do we do about that sin? What can we do? How are we supposed to feel about the problems we cause?
We talked about that in seminary. We learned all the good theological words: confess, repent, lament, contrite. But after getting out in the “real world” of pastoring, I realized the church hasn’t always done a good job of unpacking those words and concepts. 
The easy way to address sin is this: just don’t do it. Sin is bad, so don’t.
Theoretically ideal . . . but not super helpful. After all, we’re not talking about “before” we sin, we’re talking about afterwards.
Different people deal with sin in different ways. And the ways we learn to deal with sin depend on the culture (or sub-culture) we grew up in. We imitate attitudes toward sin that we see around us. For some, the coping mechanism is to not think too much about your own sin. For others, it’s to deny it unless it’s so blatant you can’t. And for some, if it’s not possible to ignore it, then feel really lousy about yourself. Beat yourself up as much and as often as possible.
We are at an interesting cultural moment in this country regarding how to deal with sin. For the first time I can remember, there is a national dialogue about it. Criminal sins, like the widespread incidence of sexual assault in the Roman Catholic Church and the “Me Too” movement. And systemic sins, like prejudice and racism. We are facing sins that are decades or centuries old, and our world is issuing a call to repentance and demanding change.
As citizens of the kingdom of God, the grief of the world is our grief, and its troubles our troubles. As we become more aware of the kind of repentance that the world is calling us to, it becomes all the more important to understand the repentance that the Lord God is calling us to as well.
Repent, give your sins to God, and then share the glory and grace of His forgiveness by working to change the sins we have lived with for far too long.
Eternal God forgive us our sins, both individually and collectively, and help us to receive Your forgiveness that we may show it to others. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.