Just what is the “sin of the world” that the Lamb of God takes away? (John 1:29) And how is this related to the sins we commit? These are two questions worth pondering.
In “Our Father is not Molech,” I gave two contemporary parables. These stories were intended to show two very different views of our heavenly Father.
The first one represented our traditional retributive view, seeing the atonement with a sacrificial/appeasement paradigm, which is no different than any other world religion.
The second story was to show that Jesus came to expose our false sacrificial/appeasement paradigm, bringing true peace through forgiveness and grace.
We need to see that Jesus revealed an enemy-loving, forgiving Father of pure love who used the cross to reveal something about us. And this gets to heart of the matter.
The “sin of the world” has its roots in our illusion of separation. And this is why we commit sins against one another. René Girard called this notion of our autonomy the “romantic lie.” Albert Einstein called it the “optical illusion of our separateness.”
Jesus said we’re all one in Him as He is one in the Father (John 14:20; 17:21-23). When we don’t believe Jesus, we’re left with the illusion.
The truth is, we’re not separate from God or from one another. All things are held together and consist in Christ (Col.1:16-17). In other words, He has no “outside!” Quantum science is proving this to be a fact. Everything in the universe is connected.
Then, how did we get here?
As I’ve said before, when Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, something terrible happened. He felt separation from God for the first time and this made him see himself separated from everyone else. His world became dualistic—God and man, heaven and earth, right and wrong, good and evil, love and wrath, “us” and “them,” the good guys and the bad guys, friends and enemies, those deserving and those undeserving, victors and victims, those who are “in” and those who are “out.”
And we replaced God as judge of these things.
Like Adam, we’ve succumbed to the accuser’s dysfunctional value system. It’s a divisive, judgmental, hypocritical, grace-hating, performance-driven mindset that only leads to massive injustice, murder and violence.
It’s in this insidious matrix that all religion is born. It’s the heart and soul of the beast. When I say “religion,” I include civic governments, economics, and politics because these are merely other forms of religion used to keep the carrot-dangling and maintain a false peace in this matrix.
To quote Morpheus, it’s the world that’s been pulled over our eyes (cf. 2 Cor.4:4).
It should be instructive to us that Adam’s progeny quickly followed suit. Cain saw Abel as separate from himself, which led to envy, then anger, culminating with the first murder and cover-up (the first myth). As Girard points out, our history is filled with myths, hiding the bodies and writing history from the victor’s point of view.
We see this myth when Cain said he was not his brother’s keeper. And we’ve been telling ourselves this same lie ever since.
When Cain was cast away, the first thing he did was build a city. And when we start living together in community, we start comparing, envying, villainizing, ostracizing, hating, and justifying our violence against those made in God’s image. Wherever there’s a higher concentration of people, this sin of the world also increases.
The “sin of the world” creates lines where there are none, and enemies of anyone who thinks differently than us, giving us the rationale to dehumanize, subjugate, and enslave whole races of people. It also rears its ugly head in our class wars, political wars, religious wars, and even in our “just wars” used as a thinly veiled excuse to accomplish our own ends at someone else’s expense. We keep the bodies hidden while we waive our patriotic flags and sing our national songs.
No country or government is exempt from this cover-up, for it’s what man does whenever we gather together in groups. The differences are just a matter of degree.
As I pointed out in my last post, how we see God will be how we treat one another. And when we don’t read the Bible with a Jesus hermeneutic, we can easily justify just about any evil act against another human being using scripture.
We have left a very bloody legacy and, sadly, Christianity has often been an eager participant. We’ve forgotten Jesus’ teachings and even how the early church interacted with the world Jesus loves. It’s actually “anti-Christ” because it opposes everything He stood for and proves that we don’t really believe Him. I talked about this here.
The irony is, we often focus on the sins Jesus didn’t focus on, and do the very things Jesus condemned. That should tell us something.
The sin of the world is like playing the game of Tag, which is just a children’s form of scapegoating. In this game, no one is on your side and the object is to not be “it.” And when we, as a culture, determine who’s “it,” we can be as cruel and inhumane to them as we want. After all, they’re “it!” This is why the religious and political spirits are so mean-spirited.
Once the scapegoat is chosen, we parade them on our 24-hour news channels, castigate them, then sacrifice them on the altar of our cultural gods, thus reducing tensions between warring factions…temporarily.
As biblical scholars and anthropologists are discovering, Jesus came to subvert this lie and undo the sin of the world by becoming the ultimate victim of our angry mob scapegoating. The Cross is not about sinners in the hands of an angry God; it’s about a loving God in the hands of angry sinners.
The Cross exposes what we do whenever we encounter pure love.
Only this time, we scapegoated God! And this victim wouldn’t stay buried, so the myth is exposed for what it is. Jesus breaks the endless cycle of violence and bloodshed, not with more violence, but with forgiveness and grace. This brings true peace.
We who call ourselves Christ-followers, are we actually following Him? It’s not easy to follow Jesus because you have to come out of this matrix and obey Him instead. And He’s only got one commandment—LOVE. Love God completely and love your neighbor as yourself…and your neighbor includes those you think are your enemies (Luke 10:25-37).
Jesus showed us a very different way to live in community. Not by the strong conquering the weak, creating a false peace through violence that only escalates it, but a true peace through other-centered love and grace; as one blood-bought family under heaven.
When we see finally see ourselves here, we will see everyone else there, too.
26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ (Acts 17:26-28 NASB)
True believers like Martin Luther King got this. That’s why he’s my hero. Maybe the rest of us will start getting it, too. It’s still a good dream.