The Church does a pretty good job of telling us what sin is. And because of it, we are labeled as “sinner”.
Pride immediately makes us judge those other “sinners” out there so that we believe we are half-way decent or that our sin is somehow better than the “extreme” cases (murderers, abusers, cheaters, addicts).
Those moments when we are labeling others as “such sinners” or those moments when we say “we would never do such a thing”….those are dangerous moments.
I’ve learned how weak the human will is. My story, and the dozens of stories I’ve been blessed to hear prove that.
I’ll never forget something my supervisor said in my past counseling practicum when we were learning about empathy (Check out my post on empathy: Jesus was Never Sympathetic).
She said…the reason we are afraid of having empathy for people is not because we will start to feel the brokenness they feel….but because we will see that we are capable of the same terrible things that these people do. We are no better. We are capable of causing the same wounds to others that have cut us so deeply.
We are all capable of the worst sins in this world….and the moment we forget that and start condemning people and saying he’s “such a sinner” we are never closer to being the Pharisees that spat on, beat, whipped, and murdered Christ.
We are capable of the same sins as every other person around us. We are all weak. We all want and pray we can say that we would never do awful things in bad circumstances…but the truth is we probably would. 11 of Jesus’ disciples left him alone to die. The least likely people to abandon Christ did abandon him. We say we wouldn’t…but I bet we would.
I saw that in the stories I got to hear this summer. People do dumb things. People are weak. People become victims of their circumstances. They are doing the best they can…and it usually isn’t enough without grace and forgiveness.
I’ve finally realized that Jesus wasn’t afraid of that sin, or the people committing it. He specifically hung out with the sinners. And the sinners loved him because Jesus was WITH them and never too GOOD for them.
How can we be that…?
How can we have the desire to be better than sin without being any better than sinners?
It’s scary and humbling to admit that we really are no better than anyone. And it gives us some perspective for loving “sinners”.
Murderers, abusers, cheaters, addicts you don’t scare me…because I know if I lived your story, I would probably be you too. And I know that if I was you…I would be crying out for someone to see me beyond my “sinner” label.
And so I’m going to do that for you.
And I hope you will do that for me too.