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I sin, you sin, we all sin all the time

Thursday, November 4, 1999

Luke 15:7
Jesus says, "I tell you that there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

We human beings, in this world where there are trillions of us, don't often get a chance to be famous, to be singled out for special recognition. However, if we do something really bad, we might get a headline or two. Murder a child, shoot a few co-workers, do some heavy-duty sinning...that will get our name in the papers for a little while.

Surely we are as far from Socrates' vision of the ideal world as we have ever been, a world whose citizens commit less and less acts of evil as they become educated and aware of those acts which do not promote the good of all. Socrates believed his conscience was more powerful than his mind in the sense that his conscience would not allow his thinking to rationalize an evil act, as long as his conscience was "educated." He did not believe that "our struggle is ... with the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Jesus' world view does include the power of this dark heavenly realm, and so his understanding of good and evil life of course includes this pre-eminent struggle. Jesus is unwilling to leave me where I am, despairing and filthy in the mud of sin. But he also wants me to educate my conscience to the point of seeing my self-ness as sinful. And, just as importantly, he insists over and over that I cannot transcend this sinful self. I cannot be righteous. My path must be the path of repentance, of a broken heart and contrite spirit. That is all that is available to me in this "dark" world, in this world controlled by Satan's long term lease.

So then God, my redeemer, holds claim to whatever "righteousness" comes through me. I am not one of the "ninety-nine righteous persons;" in fact, those ninety-nine do not exist. There are only sinners who realize and repent, and sinners who do not. Those who repent get God's attention, his grace, his forgiveness, his mercy; he opens his home to them, and invites them to his banqueting table. This is the notoriety I want to seek as I live my life in the world, but not of it.

Jesus, my savior, break up my jaded, satisfied image of myself today and show me my sin. Convict my mind and change my heart, O my God. Let me know who I am, and who you are. O Lord, thank you for forgiving me!

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