The sin of the world

Cross_handJust 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.

Crowds-streetThe 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).

Crime_sceneIt 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.

Children_playing_tagThe 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).

MLK_I have a DreamJesus 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.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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14 Responses to The sin of the world

  1. Lance says:

    Mel, another great post. The lie of separation…yep. I heard something the other day that sparked a thought. The false self, the ego-centric self, spirit of Cain, fallen Adam, the illusionary self that needs a scapegoat…so many names for the ego that believes in the separation lie. That Adam put Jesus on the cross and worships a mythological God of the cross. Our true self, the one awakened to our oneness, the Son born in love, takes Jesus and all of the sons off the cross. The cross then is not symbolic of God but symbolic of fallen Adam. We don’t worship a God of the cross but a God who puts no one on a cross. Just a thought. Thanks Mel.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “That Adam put Jesus on the cross and worships a mythological God of the cross.”

      When we think God had to punish Jesus in order to forgive us, we are worshiping a mythical God! To be clear, there is a sacrificial narrative in the Bible; but what we fail to see is that God was taking us where we were at and deconstructing it. We see glimpses of this in the psalms and prophets. He didn’t want our sacrifice; He wants our hearts. But when we focus on sacrifice/appeasement, we miss the real point. God came to deliver us from this “sin of the world”….the water we fish have been swimming in.

      “The cross then is not symbolic of God but symbolic of fallen Adam. We don’t worship a God of the cross but a God who puts no one on a cross.”

      Yes. Amen. WE put Jesus on the cross and WE killed Him. God did not do that, and He is not about killing children in order to forgive us. We tried to hide the body but God exposed our lie with the resurrection. But it’s also God meeting man in this darkened state and healing us of this disease (sin of the world) because of His great love for us. Thus, the vertical (God) and horizontal (man) aspects of the cross come together in this singular event. We should look at it like the serpent on the pole (Num.21; John 3:14-17), as a statement of what we needed healing from, what we do to pure love. God comes and subjects Himself to our lie and brings us back to Himself. That’s such good news!

      Good thoughts, Lance! Blessings.

  2. waltsamp says:

    After I read your book, Sonshift, I am sorry that I had encouraged you to write one. After God in his grace and mercy took you, after TWENTY-THREE years, out of a dysfunctional form of Christianity, what made you think you had been anointed to reinvent Christianity? I was going to write a critique of your book but why bother. Charles Spurgeon foresaw the coming of people like you almost 150 years ago.

    • Mel Wild says:

      That’s an interesting take. How did I “reinvent Christianity”?

    • waltsamp says:

      That is an easy question to answer. You eliminated the Old Testament like Marcion and edited the New Testament to suit yourself like Thomas Jefferson. If you would like to see it I have Spurgeon’s quote handy.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Again, an interesting assessment. I don’t think I’ve done what you’re saying. I love the Old Testament. It’s entirely possible I was not as clear as I should’ve been in my book. That’s why a blog is handy. 🙂

      But what I don’t do is read the Bible indiscriminately (“flat” reading). Otherwise, we end up with a hopelessly conflicted view of God, which the atheists have rightly pointed out (but for the wrong reasons). Rather, I let Jesus interpret the Old Testament for me, which is what Paul and the other writers did. I could prove this but it would take a long time. I might cover it specifically in a series of posts sometime. The bottom line is, anything that isn’t like Jesus isn’t like God. Only Jesus rightly reveals God to us (Matt.11:27). If I read something in the Old Testament that contradicts Jesus, I have re-think my understanding of what I think it’s saying, not throw the Old Testament out.

      Thomas Jefferson removed the supernatural from Jesus’ ministry and turned His teachings into moral lessons. I certainly haven’t done that!

      But Marcion brings up a good point. Like a lot heretics, he asked the right question, just came up with the wrong answer. He was dealing with the dilemma that the church was facing then (and still is). That is, what do we do with the God of the Old Testament, who seemed more like Zeus, angry, genocidal, retributive…in light of Jesus Christ, who showed them a loving and forgiving “Prodigal” Father who loves His enemies and whose justice is restorative and not retributive. In fact, this is probably the single biggest reason people reject the God of the Bible. Marcion pointed out that these two apparent views are incompatible, which they are, but again, his conclusion was wrong (to throw out the OT, saying it was just for the Jews). But at least Marcion was honestly dealing with the question. A lot more that I can say about some modern theologians who create all kinds of convoluted and contradictory answers to it.
      .
      The answer, of course, is not to throw out the OT, but to see it in the light of Jesus Christ. And let Him reshape our hermeneutic and develop our theology for us, not create theology by doing a word study from Genesis to Revelation, stringing a bunch of adjectives together, ending up with something schizophrenic and very much not like Christ. Admittedly, it’s not an easy task. My take is that we evangelical Christians haven’t been looking at this honestly until recently. But many of the earliest church fathers did have a better view, like Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzus and others. So there’s nothing modern about this.

      The truth is, we all have our “lens” by which we interpret Scripture, emphasizing what agrees with our conclusions, minimizing what doesn’t. We will always have honest disagreements with our particular doctrines, but that doesn’t mean we’re throwing out the Bible. We should give grace for our differences and wrestle through them together honestly. Luther wasn’t perfect, the Reformers didn’t have all truth. They all contributed something to the whole. We must be willing to continue to re-form and grow, not changing the Bible, but letting the Living Word change us.

      Walt, I really appreciate your comments because it helps me, and I know you’re doing this with integrity of heart. I will pray about what you’re saying. In the end, we can be brothers, even if we end up disagreeing. Blessings to you.

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  6. th3platform says:

    I am beyond impressed by this post. Thank for the encouraging thoughts. We must all continue to edify ourselves and grow our faith. God bless you. Check out my current and upcoming theological posts. Follow for follow. Share anything you like to help build up my following base! Thanks!

  7. Pingback: God so loved – Part two | In My Father's House

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