Missing the Mark
Read time: 5 minutes
I recently read an interesting definition of sin: “Whatever stops the flow of Grace”.
Our first thoughts on sin tend to go to breaking the 10-Commandments, and indeed they are an inclusive list of ways we can go wrong.
“Stopping the flow of Grace” draws us into a much broader and deeper understanding of sin.
If we only see the Commandments as a checklist of do’s and don’ts, they become a “worthiness” test of compliance, as The Law was for the Pharisees.
Is that are all there is? …is that “as good as it gets”?
Jesus contrasted the Pharisee’s scrupulous adherence to The Law with their inner life, more than once [Mtt 23: 5, 14, 23-28].
“Stopping the flow of Grace” suggests that we are called to more… but, what is the “more”?
When Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest?” He replied, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’”. [Mtt 26:36-40].
Jesus not only spells out what the “more” is, He emphasizes it through His teachings, His healings, through His life, and finally demonstrating it in His death — and God responds with equal love through the Resurrection.
Love, is the greatest Commandment.
From Love, flows Grace, and Grace flows from God, — it always flows because it is God’s love that is flowing, and God IS love [1Jn4:8,16].
Without Grace, “it” does not exist:
“…for in [Jesus]… all things were created through him and for him… and in him all things hold together…” [Col 1:16-17]
Still, God’s Grace can be interrupted — but the interruption is in the receiving, not in the offering.
We interrupt the flow by our turning away from God and replacing God’s love with… something else. We fall short of what we are called to. The original Jewish interpretation of sin is “to miss the mark”.
“…my sin was… that I looked for pleasure, beauty, and truth not in Him but in myself and His other creatures…” [Confessions (I.20.1)].
To put it another way, sin is “the inordinate attachment to the passing things of life at the expense of what lasts”.
Obedience, is about compliance. We wrestle with ourselves to bend our behaviour to comply. We win some, we lose some because without an inner “re-orientation”, our desires remain; the struggle continues.
Compliance is the important starting point, but we are called to be child-like, not childish. We are called to grow toward the change inherent in our ‘metanoia’ — the maturing and re-orienting of our heart and mind.
This change moves us into our soul and our spirit. It turns us toward our God who is always there, always waiting, patiently, as the ‘Prodigal Father’ (Lk15: 11-34] waited for his son’s return — and when he did return, ran out to meet him and showered him with hugs and kisses.
Our growth in spiritual maturity is about the transformation and communion with God and with each other that we are called to.
As our communion grows, the Commandment’s importance remain but a fuller perspective of the landscape comes forward.
We begin to see beyond the checklist. We experience the warmth and light of rays of sun bursting through the clouds. The desires of our heart imperceptibly but certainly, are drawn toward the warm and loving compassion of God, and we in turn reflect that to each other.
We see that the Commandments are the beginning, not the end — they are a means to the end — a means of increasing our capacity to give and receive love and Grace more freely and openly.
Our spiritual life throughout our mortal lives, is about our response to God’s invitation to something more — and there is always something more.