Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Wedding Dress

In today's pluralistic, morality-means-whatever-you-want-it-to-mean
culture, there are quite a lot of us who still believe that Sin is
at the heart of the world's troubles. Good ol' fashioned word, "sin",
and its use sometimes draws snickers from modern and post-modern folks
who'd rather talk about "positive energy" or "balance" and so forth...

I've heard some people pose variations of a common question on sin:
"Why are you Christians always so hung up with this 'sin' thing?
Don't you see that human beings have both good and bad in them?"

Well of course clear thinking requires that we first define our terms;
I'd like to focus on the meaning of "Good" (moral Goodness) here by
asking a simple question: "Good" compared to WHAT?

Christians believe that God does in fact have a Standard -- Himself --
by which all of us are to measure what "Good" looks like; and by that
standard an honest and humble soul will find him/herself woefully deficient;
there is no sense in talking about "goodness" unless some absolute
Standard of "goodness" exists...

To spark our imaginations about how horribly short of God's standard
we all fall, consider this idea:

A young lady plans to be married. Her mother brings down from the attic
a box, dusts it off, and from it she presents to her daughter the most
beautiful, pure white wedding dress that the girl has ever seen. It's made
mostly of silk, a simple but classic style, and is stunningly white and pure.
"My mother wore this at her wedding, and I at mine," the mother shares.
The daughter is moved deeply, and plans are made to tailor it only just
a bit to fit the daughter for her wedding day.

That day comes, and while the mother and daughter are sharing a few
moments together as they get ready for the ceremony, they laugh at old
memories, talk about the future, and even enjoy a glass of wine together.
Then the unthinkable happens: A near-spill of the wine, but just enough
to plant a purple STAIN right on the front of the dress, in plain view...

There is a scramble for soda water and other treatments, and some frantic
attempts to sponge away the stain... No good... It's right there, clear
as can be, for everyone to see. No other dress is available, and the church
is already full of people, all expecting the service to start in a few minutes.
Attempts to cover the stain are awkward at best, and the only option is to
go through the ceremony with this stain on the dress...

Now, you might say, "Well hey, what's the big deal, the dress is still
MOSTLY white, right?? Come on, why should she focus on the 'negative'?
There's good AND bad about the dress, right? Don't be such an old
fuddy-duddy, with those old-fasioned ideas about 'white dresses' and all..."

A ridiculous response, of course: The fact is that the PURITY of the
dress has been spoiled, and the WONDER and BEAUTY of a virgin in a pure
white clean beautiful wedding gown, in which to be presented to her new
husband, has been RUINED... The bride is probably devastated, for a
number of reasons, and all she can think about is that obvious purple blight
on the front of an otherwise-gorgeous gown. She's embarrassed, in front
of a whole church full of people...

Sin is the same way: God has in mind for each of us the beautiful, pure,
glorious SOUL He made each of us to be; we have STAINED ourselves by our own
SIN, ruining what He had in mind for us when He made us.
Even the smallest stain ruins the gown, and some kind of amazing remediation
is needed to set things right again. Simply put, Christians believe that the
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is God's remediation for sin.

So it's no good talking about "Good" unless you see that term in its proper light;
only God Himself can, through the finished work of Jesus, make any of us pure again.
Anything less is Man-made religion, a cheap substitute, and those who do not
submit to that Cleansing will someday be horribly and eternally embarrassed and
ashamed of their stains when presented to the Creator of True Goodness.

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