Pastor Viewpoint: To heal the wound we must address sin
By Aaron Steffen, Hillcity Church
There is a wound in our world. Perhaps more appropriately, a gash. A hole from which blood pours and pain radiates. It reveals to reality all that is inside of us, and it isn't always pretty. Over the past few years in America, the wound has been growing larger. They do that when you irritate them. Pick at them, brush them against something, catch the scab and rip it off — it doesn't matter how — when you don't leave a wound alone it doesn't heal, and ours is definitely not healing.
Some people call our wound racism. Others call it bigotry. There are those who would label it murder, injustice, segregation, overreach or corruption. These are the current names, but they are not new. They have played out over the course of our nation's history, in some of the most shameful and painful experiences of our 240 years of existence. They are however, not unique to us. They are playing out all over the world, in larger scale even, and have been for centuries. Hunger. Trafficking. Genocide. These are some names of our wound — and it is growing.
But the wound does not need a "new" name or label. It is not something unique to us. We are not the first to feel its pain. It has, in fact, been here since the beginning — almost. Our current and past labels for this gash in humanity are not the wound itself, but merely descriptions of it. They might as well be words like, oozing, gushing, gaping or seeping — because they are only describing the wound, our wound, which already had a name. Its name is sin.
And therein lies the issue. The issue is not our government, our skin color, our guns, our police force or our media. The issue is us. It is our hearts. It is who we are on the inside and what we are capable of doing to each other. And the issue is not going anywhere anytime soon. A guy named John once wrote it this way; "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." He was right. We are all deceiving ourselves when we construct fancy ways to describe a problem that is as old as humanity itself. We have a sin problem. Always have, and always will. The question isn't what should we call our wound; it's how should we respond?
Wounds bleed. The very thing that keeps us alive comes pouring out of us when we first experience the trauma that causes them. In some small way it is like life is escaping us. At least in a physical sense. But someone much better with words then myself (Jon Foreman, Switchfoot) recently penned a line that captures the hope and potential in our issues as well. He wrote, "the wound is where the light shines through." He is right. Sometimes the worst in us brings out the best in others. Often our failures lead to our greatest growth. In our worst and weakest moments, the light of something and someone bigger than ourselves who lives in us, can shine through and make even the most grotesque wound something beautiful to behold. The One who gives life can give us a life that's new.
A murderous outcast named Saul experienced that new life; and encouraged others to try it too, talked about it like this, "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
In modern day America we are adopting causes by "tagging" them. "#blacklivesmatter, #coplivesmatter, #alllivesmatter." It is nearly impossible to utter one without declaring war on the others. All of them, are in fact true. Not because of the first words, but because lives matter. People matter. To us, and to the God who created them.
And so it is our hope that instead of focusing on the color of our skin, or the vocation we have chosen; instead of altering a tag as a subtle jab towards its originators, that we would instead see the value in the new life that we could all be living. That new life, in Christ, matters. That only through Him can we really affect our country, communities, homes and relationships with light that shines through our woundedness and His righteousness. That only when we address the real problem, the heart problem, our sin problem — will we ever begin to heal the wound that so plagues us now.
May God grant us all new life, that matters. May He heal our world as He heals our wound. And may His light shine through us as he does it.