“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”- Romans 3:23
The meaning of the New Testament word for sin is missing the mark or target.
All of us aim for something in this life. Aristotle summed up his works on ethics with the thought that we all aim at happiness. There is a general consensus that this is true. However, we know that the world is full of unhappy people. We are not successful in getting what we want. It doesn’t matter who they are and what they have and who they know. The world is quite an unhappy place. The problem is that we don’t know what exactly constitutes happiness. We look to the wrong things to make us happy. We have a deficient idea what brings happiness to our lives. This deficiency in itself is not sin. Our sin lies in not recognizing that we have a deficiency. Sin blinds us from realizing that we are aiming at the wrong things for happiness. This failure to acknowledge our deficiency is an obstacle to happiness.
If we want to help someone to be happy, we cannot avoid talking about sin. However, it is a personal conversation just as the pursuit of happiness is a personal quest. Before out talk about sin can occur, there must be an intimate relationship. We can only talk about sin with those whom we love.
Igor, who is 21 years, is an orphan and has been in the streets since he was a young child. He can read and write because he was forced to go to school in the long periods he spent in the juvenile detention center. He got into a life of crime because he thought money would help him achieve happiness. Instead it just brought more problems and suffering. Now, he is not sure what is going to bring him happiness. He is not motivated to make a change in his life. He is not sure if it is worth the effort to try because there is no guarantee that he is going to succeed.
Igor is not waiting for government help. He does not want handouts. He does not even think that things are going to get better for him. He wants to know if there is a reason for him to hope for happiness in this life. I think that it is impossible to answer any of his questions without a meaningful conversation about sin. However, we cannot talk to Igor comfortably about sin if we do not genuinely care for his well-being.
So, what gives us the authority to speak about sin? This is an important question we ask ourselves constantly. Before we have this conversation with him, we need to know for ourselves whether we are aiming at the right target. Jesus warned us,
“Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”-Matthew 7:5
Perhaps we feel uncomfortable talking about sin because it requires constant self-examination. We cannot talk about sin in terms of us and them. We need to talk about sin including ourselves in the mix. Sin is very much part of our lives. We have a deficient idea of happiness as well and we in ourselves cannot claim to know where to aim.
Talking about sin makes us aware that we need to help finding the target. Who can help us find this target? Who can point to us the path of Happiness? The best we can do is to point to the person of Jesus Christ. Many do not think that Jesus has something to offer. However, for those who realize that our vision of happiness is deficient, Jesus can open our eyes to see a new reality in the Cross. This is our hope for Igor, but first we need to talk to him about sin.