It is impossible to understand the state of ‘historical’ sinfulness without referring or appealing to the state of original and fundamental innocence…One can say that this reference is a co-inheritance of sin, and precisely of original sin. ~TOB 4.2
We all know that we experience original sin. We feel its effects every day. Sin can also be described as brokenness – we don’t work like we’re supposed to. The very fact that we recognize sin, bad habits, whatever you want to call it, means that we have some other idea, even if it’s vague, of how we’re supposed to be.
Imagine that you’ve just been transported from midieval Europe to twenty-first century America, and you’re greeted upon arrival with a broken microwave. Great trip, right? Do you realize that it’s broken? Maybe it’s just a weird-looking box to store stuff in. But, it kind of looks like it should do something. It has these buttons, but they don’t do anything. Hm. Must be broken. On the other hand, modern-day you finds a broken microwave and know exactly what it’s supposed to do. Maybe you even know how to fix it.
Silly example, but we’re sort of like the midieval people with the broken microwave. I know that I’m not the perfect Rachel Meyer, the way she’s meant to be, but I’ve never seen perfect Rachel Meyer to know what she’s like, exactly. I’m broken in all kinds of ways. I have a few ideas for fixing some parts, but others seem pretty hopeless.
To take the analogy even further, Christ is like the Ultimate Microwave, and the teachings of the church are like the microwave owner’s manual. Too far? Yeah, sorry. Let’s drop the microwave thing.
The point is that sin is a lack, or a hole, or a deprivation, and even in its badness it can’t help pointing to what’s good – the thing that should be filling that hole. It’s another perspective for viewing your pet sin. (I know you have at least one.) Here are a few examples to illustrate the point. You can fill in with your own sins. (But not in the comments, because this isn’t a confessional.)
- You eat too much dessert. This implies that Perfect You would eat the Perfect Amount of every food. So it might be broken, but you have an innate ability to moderate your own healthy diet. How do you think you can get it working?
- You’re lazy. Think of all the activities that you have the physical and mental capacity to do, every day! If only you weren’t so lazy. Maybe you could resolve to actually do one of those things?
- Your Facebook feed fills you with jealousy of the people who are accomplishing life milestones, having fun vacations, and adopting adorable puppies. You are made to derive genuine joy not only from the good things that happen to you, but the good things that happen to everyone – especially your friends and family. Think of how much joy is waiting for you to share! Way more good stuff can happen to fifteen people than one person.
- You look immodestly at half-dressed people on the quad. You were designed with the capacity to look at another human and see a whole, good, beautiful person, body and soul – not just a beautiful body. Practice by looking at faces, perhaps.
- You leave a trip to your favorite store wishing you could rob a bank. Or, the store. Since you know you shouldn’t want things that you don’t need, that means that, sort of like food, you are made knowing what you need, seeking only those things, and sharing what you don’t need. Do you have something that you can share?
- You throw temper tantrums. In the original plan, your emotions always perfectly match the situation in type and intensity, and lead you to a fitting action. That’s what they’re for. If you think about it that way, I think emotions are pretty awesome.
- You always have to be in charge. Original You has a perfectly accurate idea of the strengths and weaknesses (I think perfect people would still have strengths and weaknesses) of each person in a group, especially your own, and can work in harmony. Many parts, one body. It’s a beautiful thing.
Yes, I chose something from each of the seven deadly sins. And no, it’s not a list of my own sins, but I’m so humble that you can think so if you want to. So next time you make your examination of conscience, try thinking of all these great features you were supposed to come with, and see if you can get some of them running again. If you get stuck, try the owner’s manual. (Sorry, I’m pretty cheesy. Since I know that, what does it say about my Original Humor?)
Accompanies: In the Beginning, It Was Not So: Christian Divorce?