Do you hear a lot about sin when you go around church people these days? How about church pastors? Do they talk about it much?
Well, okay, do they mention it at all?
Dr. Karl Menninger, one of America’s better psychiatrists by history, wrote a book all the way back in 1973 he entitled, “Whatever Became of Sin?” Naturally, if we’re afraid to talk about sin, we’ll be afraid to read about it. Almost no one bought the book. Fewer still dared to ever read it.
Is it possible that we may be afraid to talk about sin because sin really has everything to do with fear itself? If we ever talked about sin, we’d have to talk about fear. And there’s nothing we’re more afraid to talk about than fear. Fear reminds us of our powerlessness. Reminds us we’re not in control. Who wants to accept that? Who wants to be out of control? Who wants to be afraid?
For those who think sin separates us from God, you’ll get no argument from me. But I wonder if the paradox of sin is not that it represents our original hope of uniting with God, of being in control, of having power, of saving ourselves from being separated from God. I wonder if in our fear of being out of control, we don’t assume control in hopes of saving ourselves from that separation. The great irony being that our fear of sinning leads us to do just that: sin even more in order to unite ourselves with God, and rid ourselves of that frightening separation from God.
Fear is a powerful human emotion. It is infantile in terms of our human psychic development. Its only anti-dote, its only salvation or redemption, is love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” — I John 4:18.
Deprived of sufficient love, we become control freaks. It’s our self-salvation from fear. From sin. And how’s that working for us? Is it making us better lovers? Or is it scaring us all the more as we find out we’re not really in control after all? Is it ruining our love life, our Christ-likeness? Is it denying our salvation?
I have invested my last 48 years of work, my two graduate degrees, and countless hours of continuing education to become an effective therapist treating peoples’ underlying anxieties and an effective pastor treating the sins those anxieties (and control freaks) have caused even inside the church. In many ways, I’ve failed at both of these professional careers. Proves I’ve not been in control over anyone! But I’m not through trying to still offer a little help. Some loving influence. Not giving up. Instead, I’ll use this space to blog in the coming weeks about six elephants inside today’s church sanctuaries that no one, especially not pastors, dare talk about. Stay tuned. I’ll be talking about our sins.