THE problem

Don’t worry, don’t be concerned, because I want to say up front that it is important that we get this title right.

It is the way it is, because it is the mother of all problems. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about A problem, or even problems in general.

You see if I’m talking about problems in general, you may face something that I don’t face. That makes it a bit tricky. You may have a teenager going to university, or you may have a flat tyre. Receding hairlines, increasing waistlines. Intruding in-laws, mentally unstable bosses. Broken gutters.

I could just rattle off a whole lot there and somewhere include you in the mix. Those are the generals, but we’re not looking at that…

…We’re looking at THE problem. What makes THE problem unique is that all of us face THE problem.

I know you’re reading this and saying, “Oh no you don’t! Please don’t add this to my existing collection of problems. I’ve already got a nice little collection I’m already struggling with. I’m not sure I can maintain or cope with one more!”

But I have to! Because it’s THE problem.

So OK. What is THE problem? Are you ready for this?

Think about that word…A tiny little word…Three letters, one syllable…ONE HUGE PROBLEM.

All of us face THE problem. And if you think about it, it is the problem that is the root cause to all the other problems.

Again I’m sure you’re reading this and asking, “Is he really going to discuss the topic of sin? I’m already an expert! I’ve got decades of experience!”

“Why would he do that?”

In all honesty I thought the same thing. But as I started reading more, started chewing on a couple of things and researching, I became motivated, encouraged, flabbergasted and gobsmacked by the power and love of God.

This is what I sincerely hope you experience as well, as you continue reading this article.

The awareness of a problem always changes perspective and is the first step in the pursuit of a solution.

The awareness of a problem will always change your outlook and set you on a course to find a solution.

And this applies to any problem. Marital, work related or even a car problem. If you’re not aware of it you’ll just carry on blindly in a certain way.

But if someone comes to you and says, “Are you aware that your brake lights aren’t working?”

It’s like you’ve had this -Aha- moment, “No I wasn’t aware.”

It changes your outlook, and logically it’s the first step in the pursuit of a solution.

The next thing that would come out of my mouth would be, “I know someone that can help,” or “We should get the team together to brainstorm,” or “Maybe I should take my car in for a service.”

You start pursuing a solution. And the same thing applies to the problem of sin.

If we’re truly aware of its presence, it’s scope, it’s enormity, it will change your perspective.

On who?

Yourself, life, people…God.

And of course the next step. You will want a solution.

But when it comes to sin, we’re a little bit confused. Is it THE problem? A problem? In fact is it even a problem at all?

And I think that is a good place to start.

You see in the 21st century, the modern mind and the modern culture is saying:

SIN?

No.

We’ve moved beyond that little word. That is a very outdated, superstitious, old fashioned, un-scientific, religious, silly little word.

We’ll have some other kind of problem, we have to call it something, but to call it sin…

…is really stupid.

I had an indescretion, or

I made a mistake, or

I’m just a product of my environment. Or

shame, he’s just led by his pathological drives. Or

he’s psychologically dysfunctional.

We’re not fighting, we’re just having a disagreement with colorful adjectives.

But we’re not going to call it sin.

Do you know what he’s saying? We’re aware that there’s some kind of problem. We’re aware that we’re a mess, but we’re going to avoid the truth.

We are not going to call it sin.

And besides which, when it comes to morals and ethics, right and wrong, isn’t that all relative? It’s relative to me, it’s relative to you, it’s relative to culture.

In fact this is how we start seeing it in the 21st century. You should follow your heart, you should follow your dreams. The kind of benchmark we should use, do whatever you want, just as long as you don’t hurt somebody else.

In fact it’s actually a good idea to move in together before getting married, so that you know you’re compattible. Don’t let your parents give you this out-dated lie that you’re living in sin. It’s totally rediculous.

Or you know it’s kind of a good idea to explore sexuality, or different kinds of sexuality to really understand yourself. The best thing you know is to wear protection, otherwise you could hurt someone.

And it’s really OK getting quite drunk, cause it’s actually quite fun, just for societies sake don’t drive a car. That’s why we say drink responsably.

And it’s OK for a child to throw their rag on the ground and scream and shout, because that is how they express themselves. They need to learn how to express themselves.

And it’s good as a couple to watch pornography from time to time, because that spices up your sex life.

If it feels fine for you, don’t let some guy in a black suite and a white collar tell you, you’re sinning. That’s rediculous.

Just look at one episode of the Cardatians or even billboards, and you will notice that we actually celebrate this silly little word.

Which, does this word really exist? Yet it is the foundation word to Christianity. In fact it’s mentioned over 400 times in God’s word. More than the word grace, more than the word belief.

So if I had to say to you what is the definition of sin?

Well François, you know when you break the 10 commandments? Adam and Eve never had 10 commandments.

OH…

You know when you get so angry you through a mug at your husband. Jesus threw tables around, let alone mugs.

Uh…

What is the definition of sin?

Now I’m going to show you a rather bizarre verse today. You’ll think where on earth are you going to go with that?

The verse I’m talking about is from the book of Judges. Judges chapter 20. One of the historical books in the Bible. It’s a really wild book. Anyone who says the Bible is boring, hasn’t read Judges.

And just to give you some context, because it’s never good to throw yourself into the Bible and not know the context.

We’ve got Israel, made up of 12 tribes settling in the land of Canaan. The sad part is that a bit of a civil war has broken out between them. And we’ve got 11 tribes at war with 1 tribe.

Now this verse I want to show you describes their army. In fact it refers to one of the elite sections of Benjamin’s army.

Each one of these troops could sling a stone at a hair balanced on a rock that is a 100 meters away, and not miss.

There is your definition of sin.

Say what!?

The Hebrew word Chata, means “to miss”. It is the same word used everywhere else in the Bible for sin.

You want a basic definition of sin?

It is to miss.

And I think we need to click something very important today. A miss is a miss. You can’t half miss or semi-hit something. If that hair is balancing on that rock, you either hit it or you don’t. A miss is a miss.

So I think a good follow up question is:

What do we miss?

The standard of God. God sets a standard. A better way of saying it is that God is the standard.

What standard? Not just a pleasant standard, not just an adequate standard, not even a destinction standard – a 100% standard.

And we miss that standard. And that brings us to another question.

How do we miss that standard?

We miss that in our very natures and in our actions. The who I am, in my DNA, the core of my being misses God’s standard. And as a result, my actions in life, my in-actions in life misses God’s standard.

Just to make it crystal clear, it’s not because of your actions that you are a sinner. You were born a sinner.

Anyone that plays lawn bowls, will know that the ball is not balanced. It’s weighted on the side, and as you roll it across the lawn, the ball will curve towards the weight.

Just like that ball our natures are weighted. Totally weighted, and head in that direction.

Theologians have a fancy word for this. They call it “original sin.”

Now where does that come from?

Well God chose one human being called Adam to represent us all. To be our ambassador. And he had a perfect nature, but he did an action that missed God’s mark. And as a result his nature missed God’s mark, and as a result he passed it onto all of us.

There are a lot of things in life that has me scratching my head. In fact some of them are just plainly unfair and a mystery. But I’m OK with mystery. Science has things we cannot explain. Marry a woman, there’s plenty of mystery in that relationship, but that is a mystery I’m happy to fall in love with over and over again.

So why wouldn’t there be mystery with God?

I just want to sidestep for a moment where we’re unpacking this problem of sin, and give you three points that will help you with the mystery.

I want to tell you a silly story, ask you a simple question, and give you an outrageous fact, but I need to give my disclaimer up front.

Help with the mystery doesn’t explain the mystery. There’s a difference.

It was a bright spring day on a farm in the Karoo where the birds were chirping, the sun was high in the sky, doing its thing at optimal performance, and beneath it poor Gatiep was slaving away shearing sheep number 724, or was it 729. He couldn’t remember and was too tyred to care.

He was only halfway through with his current sheep, but his hand cramped up and he dropped the shears. “Seriously!” He sat down in a heap next to it.

A pair of fellies stopped next to him. “What’s wrong Gatiep?”

Gatiep looked up into the weathered face of the farmer. “Meneer?”

The farmer adjusted his hat and squatted next to him, “Are you OK?”

“No meneer, it’s all Adam’s fault.”

“Adam’s fault you say?”

Gatiep was busy nursing the cramp out of his hand, “Ja meneer, if he didn’t take a bite of that stupid apple, I wouldn’t be here grafting in this heat being a glorified sheep barber. We’d be like chilling and sipping amasi in the garden of Eden!”

The farmer took off his hat and brushed his hand through his hair. “I tell you what Gatiep. Tomorrow morning go straight to my house, pour yourself a glass of amasi, kick back on the couch and relax.”

Gatiep’s eyes went wide, “Meneer!?” The cramping hand forgotten.

“I only have one condition.” The farmer put the hat back on his head and got up. “The box on the coffee table -” The farmer held out his hand, Gatiep grabbed it and he pulled him to his feet. ” – don’t open it.”

The following morning the sun was still busy easing itself into the day when Gatiep rocked up to the farmers house making himself right at home, Sprawled out on the couch without a care in the world busy sipping amasi. The box on the coffee table. Who cares about the box on the coffee table?

This was the life. Gatiep had all the amasi in the world he could sip on, endless hours just chilling on the couch day in and day out. The box on the coffee table. I wonder what’s up with that box?

Gatiep was strolling through the house one day – he lost track of which day of the week it was – sipping on his amasi, when he noticed the box on the coffee table. He looked around, listened, but the house was quiet and empty, so he made his move towards the box and sat on the couch in front of it. No one’s around, it couldn’t hurt to have a peek. Could it?

He took a finger and casually flipped the lid. Inside was a folded piece of paper.

We’ll I’ve got the box open I can just as well see what it is.

Takes the paper out and opens it.

It was a note, hand written by the farmer.

Gatiep you fool. If you were there that day, you would’ve done exactly the same thing Adam did! Get your but outside and start shearing the sheep!

So you say that’s stupid. But this is where it helps me.

God chose one man who happened to be called Adam. I have a sneaky feeling that if (put your name here) was there that day, he would’ve done the same thing.

If you are a parent, do you sometimes withold information from your kids?

Now when you do that, is your motivation for their protection or their frustration?

Sometimes in your life as a parent you get faced with Information or something happened where you think, I don’t want the kids to know.

And by the way kids are not ignorant! Sometimes they know something is brewing and they start asking questions.

And how do you handle it? Sometimes you avoid it, other times you ignore it, and even sometimes you turn around and say that you’re not going to answer the question.

Do you see a bit of a parallel here?

We don’t like to think like this, but we are children of God and in our current state of being there is information God is not giving us this side of the grave.

This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 when we look in the mirror at the moment, it’s a hazy blurred up mirror.

It’s for our protection. Like if you had to really see yourself, you wouldn’t handle it.

I think God is protecting us. One day we will know, but now we won’t.

One outrageous fact is that one man missed God’s mark, and now all of us, by our very nature, misses God’s mark as well.

But here’s the outrageous fact. There was another man born. Who hit the mark. Who hit the hair a hundred meters away on a rock.

Who was innocent, and we killed him.

And every lie, and every swear word ever said, and every act of abuse, and every dishonest transaction, and every moment of arogance in all of humanity got carried by that innocent man.

He called Himself the son of man. The son of God. Jesus Christ.

That also sounds rather unfair.

Paul carries on in Roman’s 5:18. “But Christ’s one act of righteousness (the crucifixion) brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.”

So here’s another question:

What is the consequence of not hitting the mark? What is the consequence of THE problem? Sin?

Very often we think “sin makes me bad.” It doesn’t make you bad. It makes you dead.

When God created this universe and spoke stars into being, He created planet earth and all the beautiful mountains and rivers. Do you know what He said each time he added to the creation story?

“It is good.” Have you ever thought why?

You think it is God giving Himself a bit of a pep talk or a pat on the back?

No, you know what he’s doing? Everytime He’s looking at what He’s done it’s like: It is good for them, this is going to be perfect! Can’t wait, they are going to love it!

You and I do this all the time when we buy gifts. I can’t wait to give this to my wife! She is going to love it! It is perfect.

That is exactly what God was doing.

Right at the end he creates us. We hit the mark, and we stand there and it is good.

Beyond good. It is incredible. There is abundance, there’s pleasure, there’s purpose, there’s amazing relationships between us, there’s an incredible connection with God.

And part of that connection is freedom. He didn’t create another being that operates on instinct, or a robot. He gave us the freedom to say, “I’m all in, or I’m out.”

And how did He do that? By giving us one request.

Just one. With a warning attached. It’s not like we were blind sided.

Genisis 2:16. “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

In the Hebrew, the word for die has got a double barrel meaning. Death, and you will kill. Death and killing.

What? Everything.

This body. Relationships. The most tragic of all is the connection with God.

Everything in life is tainted by death. Because we keep missing the mark.

I want to change our perspective. This is not a little problem. It’s not a cute unscientific little word. It is THE problem.

How often in life have you sat back and said to yourself, “this makes no sence.” What I’m seeing makes no sence.

It should make sence. We are surrounded by THE problem and its consequences.

In fact, in your little world it’s going to help with perspective. And it’s going to help you, because you are permanently faced with this consequence of death.

Everytime you watch pornography your self-respect dies a little bit. Your connection with your wife dies a little bit. Every time you fall on the ground so drunk you can’t think straight, your reputation dies a little bit. Every cigarette you light, another cell dies a little bit. Every time you gossip, every time you lose your rag, every time you operate in arrogance or pride your relationships die a little bit. And every time you put yourself first something, somewhere in this world is tainted with death.

And ironically so are you.

It’s not a cute, old fashioned, silly little word. It is THE problem. And the consequences are huge.

How does that help me with my perspective? I think maybe you’re starting to see where I’m going with this?

Surely we need a huge solution for a huge problem.

I just want to highlight something in my small little world and in your small little world you know, where the perspective changes a little bit. This is what’s helped me.

This past year, I’ve had a look at what has happened in the world and in our beautiful country and it has really frustrated me, until I clicked that not only the world, but also our government is run by people that misses the mark, just like I miss the mark.

And every time a family member or a friend fails me, or disappoints me and I struggle with forgiveness, I need to remember that it is OK, because they are struggling with THE problem and so am I.

And every time I’m disappointed by my wife. I realize I married a sinner, but guess what, so has she.

This is THE problem. It needs to change our perspective.

We think it’s small. We don’t think it’s that serious.

No, it’s huge. We’re missing God’s mark and the consequence is death.

You’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. For a huge problem, we need a huge solution. Why not subscribe to my website and you’ll be the first to know when the solution to THE problem is available!

Tag, you’re it!

François.

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