The “First Week”: Week Seven/Session One.
Theme: The Reality of Sin.
Our reading for today: The Ignatian Adventure-pages 81-89.
Sin can be described in many ways: as a breakdown of a relationship with God and others; as a failure to love God, others, and self: as a turning away from God. Sin is an inescapable reality of the human condition; we abuse the freedom God gives us and make choices that hurt God, others, and ourselves. God does not punish us for our sins; instead, we suffer the natural consequences that flow from our sinful choices and the sinful choices of others. We see the effects of sin in the disorder of our individual lives and in social structures that dehumanize, marginalize, oppress, and hurt people. (Kevin O’Brien, The Ignatian Adventure)
St. Ignatius knew that if he was going to live a life that was truly free; one that honored and glorified God in every way, then the issues of sin that abounded in both his life and the world around him had to be addressed fully. Sadly, so many of us hope for a better future in God, but we are quick to skirt the issues of sin that so easily trip us up throughout our journey with Jesus.
I recall the time my mentor, John Wimber, told us about the sin in his life. It was during a season (much like what we’re doing now as we go through the Spiritual Exercises) when John was making it a real priority to come before God on a daily basis, praying diligently about his honest desire to live a godly life. One day, as he was pleading with God to take away his bad habits, failures, mistakes, and his careless actions, the Lord interrupted him.
“Son,” the Lord said, “why don’t you just call all this by its’ real name?” John was taken back for a moment, but then the Lord finished His thought. “Call it sin, son,” the Lord said gently, “…just call it sin.”
As I see it, there’s a real block inside me that refuses to believe that I’m really a sinner. You see, it’s so easy for us to see the sin in others, or the evil in “that” activity over there, or the sinfulness of “those” other people across town or across the world. But freedom in Christ just won’t really activate itself until you and I come to the complete awareness (and contriteness) that at my very core, I’m a self-centered son-of-a-gun who actually enjoys the freedom God has given me…to sin!
There, I said it.
So, now that it’s out in the open, let’s go one step further and look at this sinful condition which plaques us so much in our lives.
In my book, The Perfected Self (2002), I discussed the origins of sin. To me, as I’ve studied the Scriptures, I’ve never believed that God created sin. There are some who disagree, but in my thinking, a good God could never create evil, nor would He ever intentionally place a sinful nature within His good creation. In Genesis, we find God creating men and women, making us in His own image. As I see it, that means that a good God made us into good creatures, created, as we’ve discussed earlier, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The uniqueness of mankind is this. Unlike the lesser creatures He made on planet earth, He placed an amazing gift of free-will inside each one of us. And it’s that free-will which allows us to become the unique, one-of-a-kind human being He desires us to be. But as it is with everything God creates, there is a need for stewarding those same gifts, making certain they are used for His good purposes rather than being held back for selfish purposes alone. God, you see, in His Holy Trinity, is a God of sharing. All good within the Three Persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit) are equally shared and it’s His desire to share that good with His creation. You and I, through our creation by God, are the primary benefactors of His shared goodness. So when God gave us the gift of self-will, He also told our ancestors (Adam and Eve) to stay close to Him (in the Garden) so that we might learn the fine art mastering our self-will, discovering how to share His goodness with others.
But you know how that story turned out, don’t you?
More on that next time.
My prayer: Father God, I’m so appreciative of the gift of self-will You granted me when You first created me. Yet, I fully realize that my self-will has been used for selfish, self-centered, sinful activity that hurts You, me, and so many around me. Forgive me, Jesus. Teach me, Holy Spirit, the fine art of mastering self-will. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where has my unbridled self-will led me into sinful activity already today? Am I willing to call it what it actually is? Am I able to fully confess that it’s my self-centeredness and self-consumed activity that allows me to become the sinner that I truly am?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.