Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Greatest Sin

I've always been a "good" person. I was a "good" child, a "good" teenager and a "good" adult. My parents spent exactly zero sleepless nights during my teen years and actually often suggested I should stay out with my friends later than I thought was prudent. They spent a good many sleepless nights after I left home, but that was mostly fighting off the worry that someone might do something truly awful to me, like call me names and hurt my feelings or something. I live with an eye for the future. As such, the momentary pleasures of sin typically hold little attraction in light of the life I easily see them leading to. As I already stated, I'm a "good" person.

My better half and I have spent nearly a year now reading through the Bible. The reading program we're enjoying will find us having read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice come the beginning of October. I'm loving the perspective and journey that comes with a broader overview and sense of context. It doesn't hurt that this particular program groups readings more or less chronologically, giving and even greater sense of flow. I'm noticing a pattern.

The nations of Judah and Israel--especially Israel--were rampant with sin. They built shrines and altars to pagan gods in the heart of the Temple. They sacrificed their children to the same gods. They cheated anyone they could, especially the poor and needy. They engaged in wanton orgies and committed every kind of detestable sin imaginable. Vegas had nothing on them. The Pharisees of Jesus' day stood in sharp contrast. Not only did they honor God's law, they built a system of laws around the law to ensure they didn't even come close. They had no tolerance for sinful acts and harshly punished anyone caught in such an abomination. They walked little old ladies across the street, they attended synagogue faithfully, they tithed AND donated to the building fund, they were, well, "good" people.

What is shocking, however, is that when the day is over and all comes to account, these two groups shared the same sin. They suffered the same malady that separated them from God and blinded their eyes to His power and beauty. What was it? Pure and simple pride. Both were entirely self-sufficient and darn proud of it. Both loved having others admire and praise them. Ouch! In the end, what impresses God is a heart in overwhelming love with Him. He longs for people who will humble themselves enough to put themselves in His complete care. Can I trust Him and His plans when they lead to obscurity and disdain? Can I trust Him to take care of my family and our future? Can I trust His leading when it doesn't look like the smartest path to take? Will I listen for the praise of Heaven above all other voices? Does anyone else relate?