I left at comment over at Deep Strength’s blog, just something that came to me… and it didn’t make sense to the people reading it, so I’m going to flesh it out here.
When I look in the mirror, I see the reflection of a lot of sin – and some happenstance. I carry the weight of too many seasons in life where I used food to get me through … and then didn’t clean up my mess after the season was over. I carry the weight of too many seasons where sloth was my bosom companion, whether because of fear (long story) or pain or simple inconvenience.
Although I am neither particularly slothful or gluttonous *today*, I still wear the consequences of those sins. At 42, it takes a *lot* of work to get fat off of my body. I can’t just stop eating too much and poof, it goes away. So I wear my sin for all to see. And it’s embarrassing. Very embarrassing, some days.
But this isn’t about me… except that the thought that came was, “perhaps this embarrassment at old sins that I’ve repudiated is to teach me compassion to other folks, folks who wear their old sins on their shirtsleeves”. I think of the ex-gangbanger, who has tattoos up his neck… do I treat him differently, even when I meet him at church, than I would someone cleaner cut? How about the lady whose face is caved in from doing meth? She’s clean now, but her face isn’t going to fill in and look normal. Do I treat her the same way I treat someone who looks like me? What about the person who doesn’t speak standard English, or who struggles with swearing?
How do I treat my siblings in Christ, what assumptions do I make about them based on their outsides?
A commenter said, “But what about the fruit of redemption”? Which was my point. I know other religions where there is no redemption from sin, and the good news of the Gospel has always been that you can be new in Christ.
And that WAS my point. Being forgiven from sin is one thing. Turning away and repenting is another thing. But having been repentant is only the first step. It takes a lot of work to clean up the mess of sin – sometimes a lifetime of work.
And so I feel both more compassionate to those around me and more convicted of the need to work on the remnants of my own sin. If my life is here to glorify God, then my witness matters. And if I’m witnessing His all-consuming power and grace in Southern California, well… maybe it would be better if I didn’t feel apologetic about the body I happen to inhabit. Since I feel apologetic about what I did to it, and not the stuff that just happened… maybe I should work harder.
Because if gluttony and sloth are really “real sins”, then I *should* feel sorrow about what I’ve done. Just like drug use. Just like violence. Just like … anything else. And just like anything else, when I’ve repented and been forgiven and turned away, I can stop feeling the weight of the guilt and just feel sorry for the side effects. And just like all of that, maybe I can work a little harder about cleaning those consequences up. Yeah, it sucks that I have to work harder to get back to “normal” than someone who didn’t slip – and it is entirely true that I *do* have to work harder – but that’s just what it is.
Sin has consequences. Redemption is a new beginning, and we don’t need to weigh *anyone* down with the “I’ll never be enough” nonsense – will we not all receive a new body with no tendencies to *any* sin nature when we’re with Christ? – but redemption doesn’t mean you don’t have to mop up what was spilt.
So – today I received a dose of humility, in my heart and not just in my head. Thanks DS! And thank you, Lord … always.