Sin: God’s Favorite Part of Being God


sandorfi-le-pardon-wide

Lent is a time that we dwells a lot on Sin. It’s a preparation for Easter and celebrating the Resurrection, and so to prepare for this, we must meditate on those things that Resurrection itself addressed. Resurrection was a response to Sin and Death. The more we feel and dwell in the reality of our Sin and Death, the more tangible Resurrection becomes.

This can seem morose, annoying, unnecessary, or not in line with our identity as Christians. Should we do this though it might make us depressed, feel like self-focused navel-gazing, or if it distracts us from much of the rest of our Christian living?

There’s definitely a time and place for it and a degree after which it becomes unhealthy, but more than what this does for/to us or our emotional state, could I offer another reason that it’s good to have times where we bring our focus to our weakness and sinfulness?

God loves it.

Contrary to the way a lot of Christians view God, this is what he says concerning “the wicked” in Ezekiel:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? (18:23)

As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die (33:11)

God does not delight in our death that results from our sin. He does not long for it to come. What does he long for?

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to
show you compassion.
For the LORD is God of justice. Blessed are all who
wait for him! (Isa 30)

Later in the Bible, we see Jesus say this really odd thing. After telling a few stories about people experiencing great joy in finding something they lost, Jesus says this:

“there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (15:7)

Did you catch that? There is something in the heart of God that experiences more rejoicing over seeing sinners confess their sins and come to him than if they had never sinned in the first place! (Think of that as it pertains to the whole of God’s redemptive history!)

I think we sometimes fall into thinking that God is “scared” of sin, or that he plays an eternal, cosmic game of “hot lava” where he has to gymnastically climb and bend around the furniture of reason, logic, and reality just so he doesn’t touch the “sin floor”. But the cross and the incarnation shatter this.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Gal3.13)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Cor5.21)

…. looking to Jesus…who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame…(Heb12.2)

In the presence of sin, it seems that God, in Jesus, presses all the more into it. He rises towards it and embraces it, for his own joy.

After looking at all of this, part of me wonders if Lent might be God’s favorite part of the year, and Confession his favorite part of our worship gatherings. (On a related note, in light of this, if your church doesn’t have a time set aside for Confession, why not?)

I wonder if it’s in the face of Sin and Death that God gets to most exercise his “God-ness”; He gets to be who He is for us and be worshiped as such. When we are weak, he is strong; when we are sinful, he is merciful. Just as he does in light of Sin as an entity, he does to Sin in us: he rises towards it, and embraces it, for his own joy.

It’s in this season, and in those moments, where we honestly give name to the things that haunt us and hurt us and offer them to God, that we get to enter into one of the greatest longings and deepest joys of His heart: extending peace to us.

And so maybe you come to Lent and times of Confession in fear, uncertainty, lack of experience, or a little numbness from going through the motions for too long. May I invite you to press all the more into your sin? To meditate on it all the more? To confess it to our Father and his People?

In other words, may I invite you into the deepest joy and longing of our God?

Once again, welcome to Lent.

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? (Ez18.23)

[image credit: “le pardon” by Istvan Sandorfi]

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4 thoughts on “Sin: God’s Favorite Part of Being God

  1. In Luke 15:7, I think Jesus was being ironic when he spoke of “ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Aside from Christ himself, there is no such thing as a “righteous person who needs no repentance.” But for every one person who realizes she or he is a sinner and needs to repent, there are probably ninety-nine who think that they are righteous and need no repentance. There is more joy in heaven over that one person who repents than over the ninety-nine who deceive themselves into thinking they are righteous and need no repentance–and who therefore remain sinful.

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    • Oh I absolutely agree! He was definitely speaking in the mode of prophetic hyperbole to make a point. That’s why I not only included the other verses, but drew from that verse a bugger, cosmic point. I wasn’t saying that he takes more joy in those individuals with sin than those individuals without. No, I was making it much bigger, saying that God has taken MORE joy in their being an entire HISTORY of people needing confession than if humanity AS A WHOLE had not needed it. Jesus was saying that even IF it were possible for people to be purely righteous (as we all vainly strive to be and feel bad for failing at), it wouldn’t be what gave him the greatest joy anyway. Does that make sense? What do you think?

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      • I think God’s joy is in the repentance, not in the sin, as the verse says. I am resistant to interpretations of the Bible that state or imply that the world is better or God is happier because of the existence of sin. That just doesn’t strike me as true. I see sin as something God had to allow so that we could be human and not mere animals or pre-programmed robots–which would be meaningless. It is the possibility of sin, not sin itself, that makes the world better and God happier. Without the possibility of sin we could not be human, and we could not have a truly human relationship with God or with one another. But when we actually sin, it makes both the world and ourselves worse, not better, as long as we engage in sin. I also don’t think it’s better to sin and repent than not to sin at all. It’s just that, being human, we all do sin. So pragmatically, it’s best to recognize that fact about ourselves and do the work of repentance so that we can leave our sins behind and live a good and righteous life–which is what really gives God joy.

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  2. Pingback: Tears of the Earth; Tears of God | the long way home | Prodigal Paul

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