Talking about sin seems so irrelevant. If I mention “sin,” what do you think of? Eating an extra slice of chocolate cake? Sin should make us feel guilty, but we have become very good at avoiding the pain of guilt. Let’s look at some of the ways we do that:
- Passing the buck. When God accused Adam of sin, he blamed Eve. When God confronted Eve, she blamed the snake. We still pass the responsibility for sin on to others. “It’s not my fault.”
- Calluses. When we repeatedly hurt ourselves, our bodies develop calluses. Our spirits can do the same thing in response to the pain of sin.
- Giving it a new name. We don’t talk about “perversions.” We talk about “preferences” as if a new name will make a difference.
- Anesthesia. Pain can be masked.
- Paint over rust. Rather than address the problem, cover it up!
- Propitiate the pain. “I’m not good with kids. Here’s ten bucks.”
Sadly, there comes a time when we can’t escape the pain any longer. In the eight century B.C., in Jerusalem, there lived a good man named Isaiah. I suspect if you had asked anyone in the city to name a good man, Isaiah’s name would have been prominent, but then Isaiah encountered God:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Even though we think of Isaiah as a good man, no one is good in the presence of the Lord. We can’t hide or ignore our sins any longer. What was the solution for sin? It wasn’t soap. It wasn’t paint.
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah’s response is what intrigues me. He didn’t cry out in pain or ask for ointment. The prophet was filled with gratitude. In our age of entitlement, gratitude may have fallen on hard times, but the attitude of gratitude is the essence of worship. Perhaps our lack of gratitude may explain why worship has fallen on such hard times.