Religion Magazine

Never Even Once

By Ldsapologetics
Never Even OnceI am a fan of eastern religion and philosophy so when I came across The Jesus Sutras I was ecstatic.  But the first thing that caught my attention was that in these eastern versions of western scripture the cause for the fall of Adam and Eve was not original sin but original nature.
This is an important distinction to make.  We, according to the 2nd article of faith, are punished for our own transgressions and therefore not under the burden of original sin theology.
But in eastern, specifically Hindu culture, the idea is that everyone is divine in nature rather than sinful in nature and that the path to purity is to dig deep and uncover that divine spark inside yourself.
The western idea is that we are inherently sinful and we must be made pure by Christ.  An eastern view is that we are inherently divine and it is the world which is an illusion that causes confusion and that confusion results in sin.
Contrary to the 2nd article of faith a lot of the original sin theology has made it into our church culture.  The idea of being perfect and never even once philosophy for never making a single mistake and licked cupcake analogies have harmed the youth of our church culture for decades.
It's not bad to model yourself after Christ but that path takes a lifetime to get right and everyone has their own timeline to success.
What I find usually happens is people look to the sinlessness of Christ and though sinful themselves they hold themselves to an unrealistic goal.  Remember, all fall short of the glory of God according to Paul.  So out of billions of people to have ever lived Christ was the only one to be perfect and sinless.  So it's best to keep that perspective when holding yourself to an unrealistic standard.
I have known a few people who had an infinitely forgiving heart, and amazingly accepting and understanding.  I don't know how to describe them except to say they were Christ-like.
It seems more common to me to meet someone who is as forgiving, accepting and understanding and loving as Christ was or impressively close to that standard than the standard of sinlessness that even scripture says Christ was the only sinless person among us all.
Isn't it better to be in the company of someone who is infinitely loving, forgiving accepting and understanding than someone who boasts about their righteousness and their humbleness?
I've been in the company of both types of people and the first was definitely better.
It's not that perfection is bad, it's that if Jesus was the only one who ever accomplished this then how is that an achievable goal?
Yet I have met several people who did come close to measuring up to the love and understanding and acceptance of Christ.
The Kingdom of God is within us and we all can access it at any time.  But we should be weary f those who tell us that God keeps track of every sin and once dirty you can never again become clean which is the idea that was born of men not of God.  God allows for repentance.  The goal is to learn and move on and some of us take longer than others.  But we can again become clean after repentance.
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)
The Pharisee thanks God because he isn't "one of those people."  He felt he was so much better than others, he lifted himself up bu putting others down and he does this in a prayer!!
Whereas the sinner, the tax collector or publican, beats his chest or smotes it as scripture says but he admits his sins and asks God for forgiveness.  He displays true remorse and according to Jesus he is justified by God which is to say he is forgiven.
One thing that disturbed me as a teen was the licked cupcake analogy.  This was a lesson where cupcakes were brought in and then the teacher said "Ok, who wants cupcakes?"  And when we all said "I do!" he said ok (licked one and handed it to me) and said how about now?
Then I said "No, nevermind."
He then taught the lesson that once a woman has sex she is essentially a licked cupcake and who wants that?  No, you want a virtuous woman.
This strikes me as 1) treating women as possessions rather than people and b) refusing to recognize the power of repentance.
It is a lesson that teaches once you have sinned you are forever dirty.
Jesus on the other hand teaches that if even one out of 99 sheep goes missing that He will find them and return them to the rest of the flock.  This to me means we are never so lost that we cannot be found, that we are never so dirty we can't get clean, that no matter how wrong we've been we can still be forgiven, at least by God.
Jesus compares lust to adultery and hate to murder so His standard of sin is quite steep, but His standard of forgiveness seems infinite especially when repentance takes place and it is Jesus' call as to whether or not you're sincere enough no one else can properly say.
It is not the idea of doing your best or of doing what Christ did that is bad.  It's being unrealistic as to what's possible.  We have all sinned so the idea of being perfect and without sin is beyond us.
But Jesus says the Kingdom of God is within us so all we have to do is look within and claim it.  We can be like Christ in terms of His forgiveness, His compassion, His acceptance and His love.  We need to focus more on what is possible and we also need to learn about what that looks like.
I used the analogy of a circle with a wedge missing to demonstrate what is it to be "imperfect."  But now I'll use a different one.
Think of car tires.  They have tread cut into them and the designs cut are for different season, snow tires, all weather, off road.  But what if we have been cut to perform as God intended on the road of life?
We think we're imperfect, we think we are lacking but really we are cut to specific standards for a reason, meaning that what we think we're missing or lacking has been removed for a reason.  
So it's not that we are imperfect, it's that we have an imperfect idea of perfection.
Remember when Jesus was asked what He though of an adulteress caught in the act?  He said He who is without sin may cast the first stone.  Then He told her to go and sin no more.
I'm not trying to excuse sin, but life is messy and imperfect and we will all make mistakes, some more than others but no one is free of missing the mark.  Which is how the Greek word used for sin is translated as, missing the mark.
Taking life day by day a is a good way to go.  We should be more in the moment than we are these days.  We can make progress and we don't just have a life time, we have eternity.
The only true way to avoid losing a game is to never play.  The only way to avoid singing the wrong notes is to never sing and the only way to avoid sinning, for all but Christ, is to never have lived.
Repentance is key and sin is not permanent to God, maybe people but not The Lord.
Just being the best version of yourself that you can be is all that can be asked of you.  Making progress little by little you can attain a Christ-like presence and even personality.  Love is what He asked us to give all, especially ourselves because of we do not take care of ourselves we can do no good for those we care for.
We need a healthy love and we need to know what a healthier idea of perfection is.  Licked cupcake analogies need to stay in the past.

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