October 22

Romans 3:19-23

“For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” vss.22b-23

Most of us have been raised with an individualistic notion of sin. So when Paul says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God we tend to agree. Yes, there have been many times in our lives when we have done the wrong thing–and our consolation is that everyone else has too. We’re all in the same boat. Individually, we have all messed up! But there’s something bigger than this going on here. Jesus spent his time with sinners, but he generally never calls people out for their individual sins. That’s because he understood sin as a corporate issue, a cancer that infects all of humanity, and that seems to be what Paul is getting at too. Sin is bigger than our individual screw-ups, it’s a great dark cloud, almost like a desert sandstorm, that covers and taints every single one of us. It sifts into our daily lives and touches us even when we’re doing wonderful, loving things–and there’s no way to escape it. But what’s really hard to accept is that, because of the nature of sin, there’s a systemic culpability that includes even the best of us. And even though we might claim to be innocent bystanders, and that we’re not responsible for the sins of the body, our guilt remains. In fact, it’s those corporate sins that are the true offense to God’s holiness, and not the silly individual things we spend our lives obsessing about.

Thought for the Day: What does systemic culpability mean?

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