On Being A Great Sinner

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The various churches of today have a number of members who seem to me to be rather too morbid about their sins. I do not think exaggerated emphasis on personal sinfulness helps in leading the Christian life. It seems morbid.

While I feel I am a sinner with many failures put behind me and always pained by flaws and imperfections of character, I really donít see myself as a really great sinner. I think of myself usually as being as good a sinner as anybody else but not better. A primary appeal of Christ for me is not as a savior from sins, which He is, but more of a Giver and Affirmer of Life and Grace.

I donít think of myself as a greater sinner than anybody else. Most sinners seem to start out with no clear intentions of being evil. The things they did seemed a good idea at the time. They simply rationalized themselves deeper and deeper until circumstances were out of control. To be a great sinner, one must intend to be evil, and most people (at least in my experience) donít start out to be evil.

We should not hate those who are bad because few started out to be that bad. Most simply did not redeem the selfishness or passion placed there by nature in order to insure human survival. Things just went deeper and deeper until a corner was turned, and it was too late to get out. Things got out of hand.

I advise that people view their sins without exaggeration or self-dramatization. And as for being a king of sin, I donít think Iím even a prince. As sins go, I donít see myself as a five star general in sin but more of a lowly corporal. Had I known more I would have sinned better.

So do not indulge yourself in fantasies about the greatness of your sins. Do not dramatize your sinfulness. Even at my worst as a child, I never felt my parents hated me because I was wrong, insensitive or uncivilized at times as all children are. I was sure my parents loved me though bad I might be.

I never had a sense my parents did not love me. Or that they would reject me. Can we not say the same of the love of God? His love full of grace, light and love is always there for us. There is much grace buried in nature. Nature is not always ďred tooth and claw.Ē In the love of parents we see through natureís glass darkly deep truths about the spirit of Christ that dwells in nature. We glimpse the grace that surrounds us.


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.