Sorrow over Sin
In preparation for Ignite 2012, InterVarsity’s Great Lakes East Regional Black Student Conference, I have been spending time sitting in Ezra and Nehemiah.
I read Ezra last night and something stood out like a lamppost in the desert: Ezra’s complete and total sorrow over the sin of Israel.
Ezra 9 describes the pivotal scene: after finally returning to the Promised Land after decades of captivity, after overcoming opposition from numerous sides and after rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed, Israel in a moment of new victory commits an old sin.
They marry some women of a different faith the Lord said not to. (Marrying women who worshipped different gods would cause Israel to turn away from the Lord which is what got them in trouble to begin with).
When Ezra hears about it, he tears his tunic, he tears his cloak, he pulls the hair from his head and he pulls the hair from his beard. He sat there in utter abasement. When he arises, he pours his heart out to God and calls for confession and repentance of the entire nation–again.
What an image. What if our leaders actually called sin, sin? What if we did? What if it wasn’t a struggle or an issue but a moral evil that scripture says it is? What if, when given another chance–again–we attacked compromise with the strength of an uncompromising heart? What if we took the time to see how bad our sin was and how much it hurts us–and God even more?
I wonder if we would sin so quickly the next time. Would our confessions be so whimsical?
I don’t think we spend enough time actually being sorrowful for the ways in which we have hurt God, each other and ourselves. We are so quick to run to the cross–which we should be–but not at the expense that we don’t see the road that led to the cross.
To not recognize and have sorrow for the sin we have committed, it cheapens the grace that God has already distributed to us.