Walking Our Faith: Uneasy questions about sin
Walking Our Faith
In the early hours of Wednesday, I woke to what I hoped was the sound of steady rain and thought about the fire in Silverthorne.
Perhaps a bit anachronistically, thinking about the fire brought to mind the Bible story of Adam and Eve and our common reaction to sin.
Perhaps I thought about this biblical origin story because in the same moment we are sending prayers for rain and for the safety of the firefighters and for our neighbors whose homes are in the path of the fire, we are also wondering about the origin of the fire.
Was the fire caused by a lightning strike? Was it caused by the errant ember of a campfire? Or was it a malicious act by someone intending to start a fire? This is where my thoughts of Adam and Eve and the nature of sin arose.
When we are at fault, we have a few standard reactions, as we observe in the Garden of Eden when God approached Adam and Eve and confronted them with their sin:
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’
“He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’
“And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’
“The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’
“Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’
“The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” — Genesis 3:8-13
First, we deny we were responsible for the bad act, which leads to lying or hiding from the person who accuses us, or pointing the finger at someone else and blaming them. If that fails, we rationalize that the bad act wasn’t bad and that the person who created the rule that made it a bad act was in fact the bad person, not the act itself. Sound familiar?
We find some variation of these responses in the conversation between God and Adam and Eve, and in our popular culture. Yet, we write off this story of original sin as antiquated and childish.
But let’s take a moment to think about the different actions I just described and consider how each response might be used when we’ve been discovered shoplifting a tube of lipstick or cheating in a business deal or starting a wildfire.
Discussing the concept of sin makes us roll our eyes. We think it’s stupid that God punished his own creation for the harmless sin of eating a piece of fruit. We find it uncomfortable to discuss the idea that the son of God came to Earth to die for our sins. We might say, “Well, I didn’t ask him to die for me.”
But sin, and its antidote, is not about denial. It is about taking responsibility and facing the consequences of our actions. It is not only an admission of our guilt but also an acknowledgment that we must do something to make amends.
Ironically, on the other side of the equation of sin and its consequence is love. As Mister Rogers reminds us, it is the good people who rush in when bad happens. They are our heroes who say, “How can I help?’‘ rather than ”Not my problem.“
I am thinking of our Summit County men and women who immediately began fighting the fire both in the air and on the ground, who sent out the evacuation notices and set up shelters so that the people who were fleeing the fire would have somewhere safe to land.
They didn’t stop to ask who started the fire. They didn’t say this is not our responsibility. They did not say these are not our houses. Instead, they rushed in to right the wrong, to stop the forward progress of one small spark that might have been a random act of nature, an accident or a malicious deed.
This definition came to mind as I considered why Jesus Christ chose to heal the sick, forgive our sins and ultimately die for our sins, rising three days later to fulfill the promise that there is life after death.
And this was done out of love. Yet it never fails to make us feel uncomfortable. We don’t like to think about our faults. We rationalize that lying doesn’t matter if a greater objective is reached or that our weakness might cause us to feel obligated to someone else.
But if we live in a world of where everything is permissible, where sin is disguised as personal freedom, we fall into chaos. The antithesis of sin is integrity, kindness and the knowledge that morals and ethics create civil societies.
I believe the men and women who rush to help do so not only because it’s their job, but also because they love this community.
Let’s continue to pray they will be kept safe. Let us pray for our neighbors whose homes are endangered by the fire. Let us give thanks for those who rush in to save us from a problem they didn’t cause. Let us give thanks for their bravery and their goodness.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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