Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hindrances That May Not Be Sins

In Hebrews 12:1 we are admonished to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely" (ESV). Can that weight refered to there be something that is not sin? Can it also refer to good things that also hinder us from our calling in God? Michael Spencer speculated on this at his IMonk site - The Weight May Not Be A Sin: A Thought On Hebrews 12:1:

The central insight I’m going to be bringing in my Sunday morning sermon tomorrow at the local Baptist church is an optional reading of Hebrews 12:1. Specifically, I want to suggest this: the “weight” that holds us back in the “race” is not always a “sin” as specifically defined by scripture.

Someone could legitimately say that “weight” and “sin” are a parallelism, and I would agree, but the parallelism may be because of the effect of hindering our ongoing life as a follower of Jesus.

There is no doubt that we are called to lay aside, i.e. repent of, sin. I would contend that we are admonished, with just as much authority, to lay aside whatever may hinder us that is not a matter of repenting of sin, but of giving up what is not necessary, what distracts us and what makes it difficult to carry out the calling and mission of the church.
I think he is right. I know that there have been things in my life that, although not necessarily sin, have held me back. I can also see many things in various churches and groups I have known - traditions, structures, prejudices, attitudes - that take us off mission.

Spencer concluded:

What if your WAY of doing church is a weight. Not a sin.

What if your way of living the Christian life is too comfortable, too predictable, too safe and too “in the niche” of a tradition that answers all your questions?

What if your schedule is so full of things that aren’t sinful that you can’t do anything new this week for the Kingdom? What if your life at church is so full you already know everything you are ever going to do for Jesus? What if your life is so full of your current friends you could never make a new one?

What if you are investing so much in what is good that you can’t sacrifice or joyfully give away money for the Kingdom?

What if your good life, good morals, good witness are the reason you don’t have a life of discipleship filled with risk, impact and Kingdom adventures?

What if your problem isn’t the sin that clings so closely, but the weights you are so easily and comfortably carrying around in order to be a “good Christian?”

Ouch!