“Victims and Perpetrators”

Michael Horton, in The Christian Faith (p. 427-428), has some fascinating insights on the doctrine of original sin:

“The tendency of fundamentalism is to reduce sin to sinful acts and behaviors, while liberalism reduces sin to evil social structures that impede the realization of the ethical kingdom. In contrast to both forms of reductionism, the biblical understanding of sin is far deeper in its analysis. Sin is first of all a condition that is simultaneously judicial and moral, legal and relational. Accordingly, we sin because we are sinners rather than vice versa. Standing before God as transgressors in Adam, we exhibit our guilt and corruption in actual thoughts and actions. If we cut off one diseased branch, another one–pregnant with the fruit of unrighteousness–grows in its place.

Furthermore, we are both victims and perpetrators. There is no human being since the fall who is only a victim; yet it is also true that every sinner is also sinned against. Such is the solidarity of humanity under the curse of the violated covenant of creation. A particular act of sin may be (or include) the fault of someone else, but the sinful condition and the web of sinful actions and relationships that flow from it implicate us as well. It is true that we do not simply choose our vices, but are conditioned by the sinful structures to which our particular socio-cultural or familial contexts tend. Yet it is also true that we yield ourselves to these vices and are responsible for our own actions. Simplistic theories of sin easily identify the ‘righteous’ (us) and the ‘wicked’ (them), but as the biblical drama unfolds we recognize with increasing clarity that ‘all, both Jews and Greeds are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have becomes worthless; no one does good, not even one”‘ (Ro 3:9-12).


If Only…

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31

How much of our lives is spent in the “if only’s”? If only my spouse were _______, I would be _______. If only we had _______, we could _______. If only __________ would win the election, we could ___________. We spend worrying and calculating about a hypothetical world that may or may not come to pass when the real world, full of people we love and care for, is passing by. Continue reading “If Only…”

A Sure Recipe for Disaster

I was in junior high when September 11th happened. It was after this event and during the subsequent wars in the Middle East that I first heard the phrase, “Freedom isn’t free.” The folks who said the phrase meant something like this: “The freedoms you currently enjoy, the freedoms of speech, religion, a free press, assembly, etc., were all bought and paid for with the blood and lives of American servicemen, so don’t take these freedoms for granted.” Continue reading “A Sure Recipe for Disaster”

Does Your Local School Expect More than Your Local Church?

Walk into a classroom at your local school and you will find at least one decoration on the wall: a poster entitled “Classroom Expectations.” These expectations (or rules, but expectations sounds much less threatening, right?) are posted for everyone to see. And they serve a good purpose: they let the students know what is expected of them and they remind the teacher to enforce the expectations. When a student messes up, the teacher reminds the student of the expectation, and when the teacher messes up and doesn’t hold everyone to the expectation, the class can point to the poster on the wall and call out the teacher. Continue reading “Does Your Local School Expect More than Your Local Church?”

Deep Dive: Them Locusts (Joel 1)

pabloDeep Dive is a weekly series in which I look at an aspect of the text that was important, interesting or just weird but that I was not able to touch on in the sermon.

When I was a kid, one of our pastimes during the summer would be running through the vacant lot next to our house and capturing grasshoppers in glass jars. We would look through the class and see the different colors and variations of the grasshoppers. Joel must have had a similar fascination. In Joel 1:4, he describes the locust hordes that descended upon Israel and Judah. Continue reading “Deep Dive: Them Locusts (Joel 1)”

The Challenge of Bivocational Ministry

This week my “day” job started by up again. My day job is teaching English Language Arts and Reading to 7th graders. People usually feel that I am a glutton for punishment; I pastor a church AND teach rambunctious junior high students about all the grammar they want to forget.  But this is because the Lord has seen fit to bless me with a unique challenge: bivocational ministry. Continue reading “The Challenge of Bivocational Ministry”

Psalms on Saturday: Psalm 55:22

“Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 55:22

What burdens do you have? What is heavy upon your heart and soul? One burden we carry is guilt. It is astounding how much guilt we carry with us. We look on Instagram, see that someone has worked out and think, “Why didn’t I work out today?” We wanted to, we know we should have and in that moment we put a little guilt on our backs. We yell at our children, apologize to them and hug them, but we still feel badly because we know that so-and-so would never yell at their children; we grab a little more guilt and put it on our backs with the rest. And so we live our lives until our souls are hunched over, groaning for relief, too weary to go on. If you know the feeling, this psalm is for you. Continue reading “Psalms on Saturday: Psalm 55:22”