We have lost:
-The language of "sin"
-The discipline of confession
In Barbara Brown Taylor's "Speaking of Sin" she weaves together 3 brilliant chapters to call upon leaders to recover the language of sin. She argues that we have opted for more positive language like growth, outreach, and initiatives. The language of sin puts people off, and since most of our churches are declining, we intentionally stay away from it.
My sermon title this morning comes from the 2nd chapter of her book, "Sin is Our Only Hope." Ultimately, the acknowledgement of our sin is our only hope.
Three reasons we have lost our "Sin" language:
1) We have watered down grace. We tend to have a "Give me grace where I am" attitude; instead of, "Let your grace carry me to where you are."
2) In our world "Sin=Negativity." In a world of "feel-good," there is no room for "sin."
3) We take sin lightly. We feel little guilt.
Why the need for recovery?
1) The word SIN is at the center of the cross experience. (Rom.5:8)
2) Sin alienates us from God and from people.
3) The acknowledgement of sin is our only hope in our pursuit of reconciliation with God and with people.
Five Essential Practices for Christ-Followers
1) Practice Repentance (We have opted for remorse ("I'm sorry. I feel awful.") Instead of repentance ("I'm sorry for what I've done and I am going to begin this very day to try and change that behavior.")
2) Pray specifically about sins. (Let go of the end-of-the-day-prayer, "Forgive me for my many sins." Instead, get real with God about sin in your life.)
3) Ask God to stir up an awareness of sin! (Too often we opt for spraying perfume on dog mess.)
4) Allow sin and grace to mingle. Only then can we experience true forgiveness.
5) SHARE!!! CONFESS!!! Find people to confess sins with. As one writer puts it, "An unconfessed Christian is an oxymoron.
Chew on these words from Bonhoeffer:
"The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.”
“Who can give us certainty that, in the confession and the forgiveness of our sins, we are not dealing with ourselves but with the living God? God gives us this certainty through our brother. Our brother breaks the circle of self-deception. A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light…Mutual, brotherly confession is given to us by God in order that we may be sure of divine forgiveness.”