Thursday, October 29, 2009

Consider the "Rest of the Story" to Sin

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway wrote an article for Christianity Today which is very good. She notes how once a prominent Christian falls the media doesn't miss a beat in reporting it and "we're treated to an endless news cycle about hypocrisy." "But", she says, "hypocrisy isn't failing to practice what you preach. Hypocrisy is pretending to have beliefs that you don't actually have. Real hypocrisy is rare and difficult to discern." This is so refreshing to read because hypocrisy is a word thrown around so often today with virtually no understanding as to it real meaning.

According to Hemingway the media is confused about the issues of sin and forgiveness because the church is confused too. Once Christianity is reduced to mere moralism then the preaching is also often reduced to preaching and teaching "the importance of our own moral actions, thereby belittling the importance of what Christ has done for us." The Gospel provides the good news for the vexing problem of sin in our lives and this is the story for which the media has no part.

I cannot improve on her final two paragraphs:

"Each and every week, we are confronted with the truth that we are all poor, weak sinners who have fallen short. We confess our sins and receive absolution. We hear the beautiful gospel preached, and we receive Holy Communion. For major-league sinners like me, the good news of forgiveness gives life and strengthens faith.

The struggle with sin unfortunately continues throughout our lives. That is why Ambrose of Milan said of the Eucharist, "Because I always sin, I always need to take the medicine." It's fine for the media to shine a spotlight on Christian sin. But it would be nice if they included the rest of the story, too."

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