Some Further Reflections On Sin

Seeing Sin as a power, rather than just things we do wrong has other implications and allows us to see things in the Bible differently. Writers from other cultures often see this more clearly than we do.

Vishal Mangalwadi, an Indian Christian writes

“Generally speaking, the “Sunday school Jesus” confines himself only to the changing of people’s hearts, but the Jesus of the Gospels aimed to change both human hearts and human society.”

His book, Truth and Transformation uses his experience of Indian society, his experience of the power of sin to try to wake up Western Christians to the need to impact society, not just individuals.

This is something that I am convinced is crucially important. We must impact society, see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. We must transform human hearts and human society. See the defeat of Sin, Death and Satan outworked in the whole of society.

Andy McCullough is a friend. Originally, he was from Cyprus and has also spent years in both London and Turkey. He has recently written an excellent book called Global Humility: Attitudes for Mission.

Andy talks about an implication of seeing Sin as a power is that humanity then needs to be seen as a victim. He highlights this in the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4.

“Why condemn her? The reality of the ancient world, sadly, is that she could likely have been widowed several times (as older guys married younger girls and the life expectancy was not high), or she could have been divorced several times (divorce was extremely common in the ancient world, at the male prerogative). She most likely did not have children, or else they would have been collecting the water for her or with her, and perhaps her barrenness was the reason for her divorces. The man she is with now is not her husband; more likely to be his fault than hers! Nowhere in this story does Jesus call her immoral. Later on, the fact that the townsfolk so readily accept her testimony is evidence that she was not considered immoral by the community. Sin is at work in her story, yes. She has been sinned against. She is a victim! And Jesus shows her his mercy.

Of course, the Samaritan woman is a sinner – we all are! But the purpose of this story in its narrative context is grace for the marginalised, not grace for the guilty.”

This was a revelatory insight, I naturally see things through the exclusive eyes of people as sinners, rather than the victims of sin. Seeing things in this way changes so much.

Andy has other powerful things to say, I would strongly encourage you to read his book. Next week I will bring some further quotes and insights from “Global Humility”.

Written by Tony Thompson

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