Seeing Sin In Ourselves and In Society

Scripture: Ezekiel 24:1-13

Seeing Sin In Ourselves and In Society

What is the last thing that really set off your anger? I find myself enraged at someone else’s bad or inappropriate behavior pretty regularly these days. Something is just in the air and social media seems to be intensifying it. I try to ask myself, “what are you really upset about?”

Typically, my go-to response will be the idiotic responses or unjust actions of others. “They” are being irresponsible, over-simplistic, or overly-complicating. “They” are perpetuating unjust systems, standards, or laws. “They” are being an intolerable nuisance to well-meaning and good people. I have identified others with some flaw, and this allows me to feel justified in venting my anger towards them. It is much easier to see flaws in other people, then it is for us to own those or similar flaws in other people. Our ego is seemingly endlessly creative in dodging responsibility.

Conversely our ego may want to beat us up for our sin, mistakes, or injustices. When it is ego-driven it is experienced as shame, resentment, or fear-driven. Our ego gains a measure of self-righteousness in holding a high standard over our heads and chastising us for not living up to it. If we aren’t living up to a standard, then at least we know it, and demonstrate we still hold the standard by punishing ourselves.

The prophet Ezekiel is given a parable of a cooking pot as a picture of the unfolding judgment and intense consequences falling upon the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the capital city of Jerusalem, and the sacred worship site of the Temple. The heat is being turned up on this proverbial pot to remove wickedness, injustice, and selfish disobedience. One of the primary causes identified is “bloodshed” or violence. They have become a people driven by, consumed by, and ultimately destroyed by violence. This is a far cry from God’s Dream for the Hebrew people to be blessing to all the nations. They have gotten lost in ego-driven responses to one another.

Our response to seeing sin in ourselves or in society tends to be ego-driven. Whether we are blind to sin or intensely condemning it in ourselves or in others, it is often coming from a place of trying to protect our ego. Our ego may lead to changes in behavior, but if it is in the driver’s seat, then there will likely not be much transformation. Ego manipulates, punishes, pressures, and condemns. Grace invites, restores, allows, and frees.

When we are grace driven we see ourselves and the world in non-judgmental awareness. This does not mean we are unaware of brokenness, injustice, sin, or wrongdoing. It means we relieve our ego or the role of being in the driver’s seat for our response to our awareness. My ego wants to minimize my mistakes and maximize others. Or when that clearly hasn’t worked my ego wants to shame me for failing to live up to the standard. Then my ego distorts my true identity as God’s beloved, created in the Divine image. It only focuses on how I’ve failed and dismisses any of the good God is working in my life.

Grace holds all of who I am in the Illuminating Presence of God. It honestly shines on areas of growth and failure. Grace sees my selfishness and my potential. Grace highlights sin in light of the larger redemptive work of God. Grace distinguishes between destructive behavior and my deepest identity. Grace invites us into freedom and restoration.This isn’t driven from self, but flows from Jesus the Messiah.

Ezekiel and the Hebrew people would learn there are real consequences to living a life of selfishness, violence, and disharmony with the Creator of the Universe. We are invited to learn from their destructive end and seek the grace-filled Way of Peacemakers, humility, and faithfulness in loving God and loving others.