Pastor’s Monthly Message

A Message from Pastor Harvey 

 February 2022

I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. So it is strictly a coincidence that this article is related
to love. But let me start by asking “What is sin?” (That seems an odd way to begin talking about love, doesn’t it?)

Very often we think that sin is defined as breaking one of the 10 Commandments. If we have a more conservative mindset, we might think that sin is breaking any one of the 613 God-given Commandments of the Old Testament. Or, you might think that sinis breaking one or more of the God-given Commandments that seems relevant to you, or logical toyou, cherry picked or chosen out of the 613 God-given Commandments. For example, you might think that murder is still sin, but eating a cheeseburger is not.

And that makes logical sense, but how do you decide which Commandments count and which do not.? Is it all based only on logic? And if you answer yes to that question, are all the Commandments subject to the test of logic. And if you answer no, are all the
Commandments still in force? Or, is it the New Testament letters of Paul and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles talking about food that seem to eliminate only the Commandments about food so that you can now eat a cheeseburger (or shrimp)?

But if the loosing of the law that Paul and Jesus talk about applies only to food, what about the Commandment that prohibits wearing clothing that is made from two kinds of material, like a cotton/wool blend? What about the law that proscribes death by stoning of children that mouth-off to their parents? Or, for example, the death penalty for
parishioners who question or disobey their pastor? Are eating shrimp, wearing clothing with mixed materials, or disobeying your pastor still sin?

If they are still sin, in your opinion, well and good. There is no question in your mind. But if these are not sin today, how do you decide? Let’s look at a different perspective on sin.

In teaching about sin, Martin Luther did not have just one definition of sin; he had several. One definition of sin was rebellion against God, meaning sin is doing your own thing rather than God’s will. This was based on the First Commandment from the 10
Commandments. “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other Gods.” This is also the sin of idolatry, which could be described as putting yourself in God’s place of authority and dominion. This is actually a more common waying of disobeying this commandment that the popularized “worship of false idols.”

Luther also defined sin as “recurvatus in se,” turning your attention and effort towards yourself instead of toward God and neighbor.

I still favor a definition of sin as anything you do or fail to do that harms your relationship of love with God and/or your neighbor. This definition of sin relating to relationship, really only makes sense when you perceive God as love; even love incarnate in Jesus. But all of these other definitions, including the rest of the 10 Commandments, are really just spelling out and giving examples of the first – I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods.” Because, when love is God’s primary attribute, loving our neighbors is how we love God. I don’t know which theologian said this first, but I wonder if it has more than a grain of truth: “the reason we are here is to learn how to love” (and forgive).

So, would it be true to say that another way of defining sin is to say sin is not loving each other? This definition satisfies all of the 10 Commandments. In fact, I like this definition better than my previous favorite. Sin is not loving one another.

1 John 4: 7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

+Pastor Harvey
cell – 719-470-4230

 

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