We live in a fallen world. While that reality isn't pleasant it is very much a part of life (one that is completely impossible to ignore in this day and age). Yet that reality is pushed aside again and again and not just by new age spiritualists who would deny the existence of evil all together and claim that anything that comes from the spiritual realms must be good (just as many seem to delude themselves these days by saying that anything who comes from the natural world must be good, an argument I hear often in the legalization of marijuana debate).
A large number of Christians have even embraced this form of "spirituality" and constantly attempt to water down Christ's teachings so that all that remains is "judge not." Even Catholics spout this nonsense, ignoring completely the spiritual work of mercy to Admonish the Sinner (and how anyone could do this when nothing is a sin is beyond me).
Yes we've all sinned and could all probably use a good admonishing now and again (I know that when I need it the most I'm the most embarrassed to hear that I'm wrong!). But it also helps because that embarrassed reaction usually helps me come to terms with what I've done and send me quickly to a priest for the sacrament of reconciliation (I've even instant messaged our priest on facebook to set up a confession).
We also live in an age of moral relativism where some would even call the existence of sin into question (much less seriously discuss something like the Devil... the subject of my next post). Many who say they believe in Christ believe only his warm and fuzzy words and ignore anything harsher (or reserve those judgements for the more traditional Christians that actually try to follow His teachings... because they're so "judgmental" about actions being "sinful..."). They'd like to forget the Jesus that overturned the money changers tables and edit out any part of scripture that doesn't fit the teddy bear image of a saviour.
And perhaps that's why the first part of this morning's reading at Mass stuck with me. It read:
1 My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But he that keepeth his word, in him in very deed the charity of God is perfected; and by this we know that we are in him.1 John 2: 1-5 (1 John 2:3-11 was the actual reading today)
Christ's teachings are about more than just happy feelings. We're also to follow His commandments. And while this does most certainly involve loving one another it also clearly involves doing the right thing (which is also pretty clearly laid out in the Bible although it's not exactly trendy these days).
God does offer forgiveness. But we must accept that forgiveness. In order to accept that forgiveness, we must first admit that we've sinned. Which is why it's so important to recognize that sin exists. Without that realization (which is oh, so unpopular in the days of anything goes) we close the door on Christ's sacrifice and God's forgiveness. And that is a waste that we could spend eternity paying for...