Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Scandals are all around us. We live in a world of infidelity, embezzlement, Ponzi schemes, performance-enhancing drugs, and domestic disputes. We see selfishness, deceit, greed, and cheating all the time. There's corruption and heartache everywhere, and yet we still feel surprised when it hits close to home. We Christians are supposed to be the "good people" right? We're not supposed to be stained by the same sin that infects all those other Godless people. Yet, the evidence is to the contrary. We do sin, all the time.

I've learned that the world is not divided into good people and sinners. Maybe we're not all murderers, armed robbers, or promiscuous sex addicts, but we all share the same sinful tendencies from which these crimes stem. I myself get unreasonably angry, behave selfishly, and entertain lustful thoughts about people other than my husband. If I say that I'm a completely different person from all the criminals and jerks out there, then I'm in denial. I make mistakes both large and small, and some day I may do something that I never imagined myself capable of. I have to understand that I am a flawed human being, and sometimes those flaws assert themselves alarmingly.

I was surprised last year when my nuclear family was split apart by divorce. I knew there were relationship problems and I'm well aware of divorce statistics. So why was a surprised? Maybe I had convinced myself that divorce doesn't happen to people who've been married a long time or that my loved ones were too smart to be unable to work it out. It just couldn't happen to my family because we were somehow supposed to be different. Basically, I was in denial. I had to wake up and realize that life isn't that simple. Divorce isn't limited to stupid, stubborn people any more than criminal acts are limited to sociopaths. All of us get into messes that we can't work out on our own. I can either look at the people struggling around me and condemn them for their mistakes, or I can consider my own failures both past and future and pray fervently for all of us to receive mercy.

I don't want to be like the Pharisee in Jesus' parable (Luke 18:9–14) who stood on the temple steps and congratulated himself on being a completely different person from the lowlife tax collector groveling in prayer beside him. I know that the pharisee and the tax collector are both sinners, and I know that I am too. Yes, I am disappointed when scandal breaks out and heartbroken when it strikes close to home, but what right have I to condemn? My sins may be different, but I am intrinsically no better than any of other sinners around me. Without God, I would be completely enslaved to my basest urges. Even with God's help, I have done more damage than I could possibly pay for on my own. Even if I could convince myself that I was less sinful than everyone else, in reality I would still be a sinner.

I don't want to live in denial about my sins or the sins of the people that I love, because then I would miss the opportunity to pray for mercy. I will not pretend to be clean just to make myself feel better. I want to actually be clean, and I can't do that on my own. God have mercy on us all.

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