A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis. We studied the Apostle Paul and his letters, Romans and 1-2 Corinthians. I appreciate the chance to get a way and bump heads with other pastors and professors!
I asked what the difference between students now and when I attended seminary. The answer enlightened me. Many of the new students in their 20’s and 30’s do not identify with the same concept of sin that many of us do. I grew up understanding that my sin separated me from God but through the death and resurrection of Christ I was forgiven and brought back to God. Instead, they understand sin as shame. The current students are interested in how God can free them from a sense of personal shame and guilt.
It’s not important how we as a church define “sin” theologically. What is needed is that we share the message of forgiveness contextually. It is a horrible thing living with unnecessary guilt and shame. Think of the freeing good news we have to share. Christ sets us free from guilt and takes our shame away.
King David committed adultery and murder yet his prayer in Psalm 51 is powerful and comforting. “Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me … hide your face from my sins, and blot out my iniquities … restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.”
Beloved in the Lord! Rest in God’s forgiveness. No more shame.