The Worst Sinner in the World

Try for one minute to imagine the absolute worst person with the worst sin you can imagine. What might they look like. chp_shadow

I imagine that this person would be a pervert. They would probably molest children. There’s a really good chance that they had raped multiple people. They would probably be on death row for murder. Murdering innocent people. On purpose. This person would not be able to live with them self they are so bad. In order to avoid dealing with the reality of their own failures this person uses many things to distract themselves. Alcohol, lots of alcohol. Drugs. This doesn’t help the problem, in fact it even makes the person do far worse things like hurt their children and their spouse. This person needs control. When they lose control they have absolutely no idea what to do. They panic and it makes them want more control, control over everything! This person doesn’t just hurt people physically. This person says things that are mean and intended to hurt people. In fact, this person has no control over what they say. That’s how bad they are. Every once in a while this person will get an opportunity to be helped and to deal with God and their own inadequacies. BUT instead of getting help this person will turn to any distraction that they can find because they are hell-bent on being the worst sinner they can be. So in those brief moments this person will get a drink or two, turn to their fantasy world, go buy things, watch a movie or television show, distract themselves with other people’s lives or turn to a human….anything…anything at all to not have to actually deal with change, to deal with God. This person worships them self. This person does not care about other people. They care about themselves more than all others and more than God. This person get’s angry. So angry they want to hurt people. This person steals things from people. This person is so demented that they steal things from God. This person is evil.

From my experience there are two main “gut responses” to the above description.

The First. Thank God that I am not that bad! I know I’m not perfect, no one is. But this person is seriously messed up. I’m a sinner and there are some similarities but there are much more differences.  This person has made choices that have lead them to the consequences that they are dealing with. I have made different choices and that is why I am a better person….or at least better off.

The Second. Wow. That’s pretty bad. That’s me.

Here are what I think will be the corresponding natural result of either of those responses:

The First. Judgment. Not being “that bad” gives you the ability to look down upon others that are. Something’s got to separate you. Independence. Because you are defining yourself by your qualities and your achievements (via the lack of quality and the lack of achievement in others) you find yourself in less need than those with “bigger” problems. Less need means you need less help. Less rescuing. More pride. If there is a difference between you and this person you can’t be worse! You must be better. You don’t need as much “help” as the worst sinner. You don’t need Jesus as much.

The Second. Absolute desperation. Dependence. Feelings of inadequacy. Humility. This person needs a lot of help. This person really needs Jesus.

Are the first and second responses compatible?

My entire life has been spent living life in light of the first. For the first time, I am beginning to more closely identify with the second. In other words, I am realizing that I am the person described above. That is my biography. My story and my identity. This is what I want Jesus to rescue me from .

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10 thoughts

  1. I think you really nailed it here. This is precisely why I think that homosexuality and abortion are such huge hot button issues with Conservative Christians. They are two things that CC’s can point to and say, “I’m Definitely NOT that” or “I’ve NEVER done that before”.

    It’s so much easier for us to look at other’s shortcomings than it is for us to be introspective. Like often times in a divorce, you typically hear from someone how awful the other person was or why the other person caused all the problems or drove them to drink. If people could be more introspective and be willing to admit where they were at fault, people would probably be able to work things thru.

    There’s a great quote in I think the Ragamuffin Gospel regarding that. It was from someone referring to people who call AIDS God’s judgment on gays. He essentially says that it’s lucky for those people that God hasn’t made a deadly disease yet for the self righteousness, judgment and slander.

  2. It’s interesting – I went through a similar transformation when I was in twelve-step. I was in NA, but I thought “I didn’t do much but smoke pot, I wasn’t that bad.”

    Sitting in NA I started to “identify” with the hard drug users who robbed stores, severely neglected their family members, etc.

    In retrospect this wasn’t good at all for me, personally, and I don’t buy the whole 12-step ideology/theology that “If you have this disease, you are simply somewhere on a continuum, and without 12-step you would have ended up where THEY [the people who are “progressed” far into the “disease” in question] are, so don’t look down on them.”

    Also, the whole “you try to control your life! that’s so dysfunctional” thing doesn’t make a whole lot of rational sense to me, either. Taken to an extreme, that rationale has gotten a lot of people in trouble in 12-step – check http://www.morerevealed.com in the section called Horror Stories for some compelling, detailed, and terrible anecdotes about same.

    Everyone, even the most hardcore Christian or passive 12-stepper or whoever, SHOULD feel remorse when they experience trauma or loss that is outside of their control. 12-step tends to advocate basking in your own lack of powerlessness and control to the extent that, in my experience, one is robbed of an essential stage of grief or recovery from trauma. Further, the remorse and negative feelings you feel when you experience an event outside of your control CAN and SHOULD lead to personal growth rather than the simplistic, obvious revelation that “There are some things we can’t control.”

  3. Add to that list:
    They are TOP AIG EXECUTIVES THAT GO ON $30K SPA RETREATS WITH GOVERNMENT BAILOUT MONEY PICKING UP THE TAB!

  4. I totally agree with that dark description of our lives. When we see our sin the way God does we all can identify with that. But that is not our identity anymore because we are adopted sons and daughters of the King. I say that because if we live our lives through that description instead of how God now sees us we will live in shame and regret. Christ did not do away with of our sin but he covered it with His blood so we can now live with our heads held high because we are His. Thanks Ben for your honesty and sharing your thoughts!

  5. Conwict, You said:

    Sitting in NA I started to “identify” with the hard drug users who robbed stores, severely neglected their family members, etc.

    In retrospect this wasn’t good at all for me, personally, and I don’t buy the whole 12-step ideology/theology that “If you have this disease, you are simply somewhere on a continuum, and without 12-step you would have ended up where THEY [the people who are “progressed” far into the “disease” in question] are, so don’t look down on them.”

    I guess my point was less about being on a continuum that will lead to a certain degree of external symptoms but more being able to identify that we are in fact of the exact same mindset and have the exact same degree of powerlessness or lack of control…we just show it in different ways. I’m not sure what your religion/god/theology background but these beliefs are 100% based upon mine and I wouldn’t expect anyone with a different worldview to understand or agree at all.

    I do wholeheartedly agree that any program or mentality that makes causality absolve one of responsibility is tragic for all involved because in the end it will not help the “victim” arrive at the true solution.

  6. I believe that in view of God’s amazing holiness and enduring love, we are all perverted prostitutes who have slept with thousands of cheaper, lesser, unholy gods–gods who have not truly satisfied our deepest desires or kept their promises.

    I need to be reminded of Ezekiel’s vision daily so that it drives me to dependence on Jesus and his work, not myself.

    Thanks for your heart-felt message, Ben.

  7. Ben,

    The verse you linked is so full of mysterious truth that I feel like I could study it for weeks and learn more and more from it everyday. That is what I would like to do but is probably not what I will actually do. If I force myself to go through with things will my heart follow too? I am always amazed by the way I underestimate the power of God’s word.

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