We don't talk as much in the church about sin as we used to. It's become an unpalatable topic for most churches, frankly because it's become unpalatable for most Christians. In a world in which we consider ourselves to be primarily "good" people who don't do many "bad" things, the idea that we would be sinners is...hard to swallow. Me? A sinner? But I'm a "good" person!
So we focus on getting our worship right, on getting our outreach right, on plugging into our programs and our communities so that everyone who comes to our church has a worship-ful experience and gets to hear about all the love and grace and wonder that is our God.
Which is good, and it's true that is our God, but it's not our Savior. Our Savior's love and grace and mercy comes to sinners who need His atoning sacrifice.
No buts. However, let's be honest about this and say that it's not a new phenomenon. This whole idea of sinners in need of a savior has been a bit difficult for God's people since...well, since they became God's people and He started telling them about it.
We can go all the way back to Amos and see a glimpse of this. The prophet is talking about the unfaithfulness and waywardness of the people of God, and what he says is that their worship is right, but their hearts are not grieved by sin.
Read that again: they were worshiping exactly the way God had prescribed for them to worship, but their hearts were not grieved by sin, so they were missing something essential.
We, too, are missing something essential when we neglect to remember that we, too, are sinners. To put it bluntly, we're missing our Christ.
We don't preach the Cross any more. Maybe at Easter, but not on a "regular" Sunday. The single most identifiable act in the Christian faith, the turning point of God's relationship with His people, the very thing that our hearts ought to be turned toward, we've tuned out because it's...distasteful to us. Not only distasteful, but unnecessary.
We can be good people without the Cross. All we need is Jesus.
It strikes me that in writing a sentence like the one I just wrote, a lot of readers are likely going to say yes, of course. That's absolutely true. And it is. We can be good people with Jesus. But without the Cross, we can't be good people with Jesus eternally. Without the Cross, we're just nice human beings, not redeemed image-bearers of the Living God. Without the Cross, we're just making ourselves feel better, rather than actually being made better.
I get that we're invested in our programs and our worship and our sermons and our music. I get that we're into outreach and doing good works in our communities. I get that we're basically "good" people doing "good" things and giving glory to God for it. But the greatest glory we can give to God is not our "good" lives, but our redeemed ones.
Even if our worship is perfectly right, if our hearts are not grieved by sin - by our sin - then we're missing something essential.
We're missing our Savior.
All for the sake of our "God."