Thursday, January 7, 2016

Taking sin seriously.

Thursday marks the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.  A year ago, nineteen people were shot and killed by Muslim Extremists at the magazine headquarters and a nearby market.  Hebdo was targeted because it featured a cartoon of Mohammed.

Just think of that - a cartoon meant people had to die.

All across Paris there are memorials taking place - plaques dedicated and observances held.  On this first anniversary, a knife-wielding man near police headquarters at 11:30am (same time as last year's attacks) charged police and shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great in Arabic).  He had a note taped to his chest and wires extending from his jacket.  These wires were discovered later to be just for show as the police shot him dead.

Just a reminder that terrorism comes in all forms and sizes.  This guy seems to have been small potatoes but apparently he was ready to die for some sort of cause - and take out other people with him.

An event that reminds us to be vigilant against extremists but also brings us back to guns.

Depending on how you look at it, there are points to be argued from both sides of the debate (and both are great points):

- Not having a gun didn't stop this attempted murder. (Point for the gun people).
- No gun meant no victims in this instance. (Point for the anti-gun people).
- The only thing that stopped him was a gun. (Point for the gun people).

I mean really, I am no gun enthusiast but I would have been very grateful for the French police who shot this guy dead if my children were nearby.  I'm grateful for a gun today but the chances are I will lament the use of a gun in the next two months.

The whole thing is complicated - and we trivialize the issue when we post things or approach the issue with ridiculously one-sided and narrow-minded solutions to the problem of violence in our society.  The issue is not the 2nd amendment or gun control laws.

The issue is sin.

No, not sin like "Tha Lawd sees y'all as sinnuhs!"  Preachers that make a big deal about your sin and then quietly conceal their own.  Sin is more than something that doesn't line up with a prescribed or inspired list of do's and don't's.

Sin is simple - it is living in a way that is disconnected from our creator.

I sin when I insist on my way.  I sin when I ignore the one who created me.  I sin when I feel superior and I sin when I let other people walk all over me.  Sin is not a religious word - it is an indicator light - like when I am driving and the Check Engine light comes on.  I can ignore it or I can have someone check it out.  Yeah, it is going to cost something but it is important to get it checked out or I am going to break down at some point.

As a culture we are broken but I am not sure we have realized it yet.  The gun issue and Muslim extremists are not about more restrictive laws or carpet bombing ISIS.  They are symptomatic of a deeper problem of sin.  They are flashing check engine lights that have been ignored too long.  I realize it is not a popular word, but we have tried everything else - maybe it is time take sin seriously and start living again in rhythm with God.

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