Sin is comfortable. But not too much sin. Just a little sin; and our kind of sin. We seek out the company of others who are permissive of our particular brand of sin.
I grew up in the church. There are many blessings that come from a Christian upbringing, but a peculiar set of pit falls is often part of the package deal. I learned that it is good to be respectable. A good Christian girl does not wear skirts above the knee, or smoke, or drink (but you can’t openly judge those who drink, since the Bible does not forbid liquor, merely overindulging in liquor; but you shouldn’t if your super serious about God, just to be on the safe side. And the really big sins, forget about it. She’s friends with someone who has premarital sex?? That guy friend of her’s looks a little light in the loafers. I saw her with some kids who use colorful language! But he has spiked hair – spiked!! What what what??!! I was taught, whether intentionally or not, that some sins are not only not respectable, but those “sinners” are not worth my friendship. At least until they clean up their acts. Thankfully none of this came from my parents, but it was the message I managed to absorb through years of churching and two different Christian schools.
When I became an adult (that word is debatable by those who know me well) I rebelled against much of the outward Christian culture I with which I had become so familiar. I exercised my freedoms. I bought short skirts. As a 22-year-old, I sneaked out of the house extra early and brought pants to change into for the ride home because I didn’t want to face accusing questions. I got tattoos. I smoked (stupid, I know – not the point). I became friends with the marginalized, even though they believed differently from me. But all of this happened only after I walked away from the church altogether for over two years. I had become so confused about what was Christian and what was merely Christian culture.
As a teenager I felt schizophrenic in my Christianity. Not bad enough for the bad kids and not holy enough for the good kids. As much as I’d like to think I have grown tremendously from that awkward teenager, I am still very much the same in my comfort level of sin. Professing Christians who sin “way more” than me are hypocrites, frauds, and liars. But Christians who are really “good” are almost too good – fuddy duddies, buzz-kills, or (gasp) legalists lacking grace and mercy. My view of other Christians is much like my driving – anyone going too fast is an irresponsible, reckless maniac; while anyone going too slow is a pain in the ass because they get in my way, and I have places to be! My natural inclination is to be around people who sin “just the right amount.” You’ll tolerate a bit of gossip, but not so much that it turns malicious? Perfect. You’ll drink, but at least you won’t be as drunk as so-and-so? Great. You’ll be cynical but only slightly more or less cynical than me? I don’t want you too cynical because it gets kind of annoying; but I don’t want you too hopeful either, because that’s just gross.
So yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a fraud. And a coward. And a sinner. But I’m also a Christian. I have spent many years comparing my sins to those around me, using my own internal sliding-sin-scale. If I am honest, I have not just “fallen” into sin, but jumped in, with both feet and waving my arms over my head. I want to believe that God grades on a curve. And thank Him that He doesn’t. My sin is not worse or better than the sin of anyone else. It’s all sin and it all grieves our Father. He judges us against His own impossibly perfect law, but through the lens of His own perfect Son. Perfection required. Perfection delivered. This is too mysterious for me to grasp, and even this clarity I feel I have tonight will no doubt be hard to find tomorrow.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
1 John 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!