Sin 101: Infinite Mercy. Or… Does God Like Macaroni Art?

Believe it or not, one of the few things I’m qualified to do is speak on the topic of sin.  Oh yes.  From both sides of the subject, much to my shame and my confessors poor ears. 

Despite the best efforts of my Mother, Priests, and Philosophy and Theology profs, I had my twenties.  I’d like to say I flirted with Moral Relativism, but sadly, I frenched it and had a poisonous love affair.  Thankfully I also didn’t listen to other wisdom like, “Never date anyone crazier than you.”  I say, “Thankfully.” because it was that disaster that made me wake up and realize that Moral Relativism is really only about trying to… ahem… “to know” others in a way that is not appropriate to your state in life. 

So once sufficiently burned by the dark embers of License without maturity, I realized that all those fancy words and LONG books might not just be useful theory, but practical tools for hammering out a life.  With much hope, I turned back to my many, many, years of schooling.

I mention all this not to come across as some worldly reprobate turned saint (for I assure you my exploits were tame by comparison to just about any modern sitcom), but to say, “I have a clue.  I’ve been there.  I’ve looked evil in the face and saw an unsettling resemblance to my life.  Or at least in the direction it was heading”

So with that and my “book learnin’”, I feel quite confident of talking about sin and what to do with it.

Most of us who haven’t sold our souls to other gods or beaten our guilt to a bloody pulp know that feeling when we’ve done something “bad”.  I’m not going to get into specifics, but we’ve all felt that, at least, twinge of regret.  Some of us have that regret heaped on in job lots after we realize that the shiny perfection that will make our lives complete is really just another “Golden Dancer”. 

When that happens, there can be a sweet lie that creeps into our minds.  It takes on one of two tunes.  It has the same notes, just one is played in blues and the other in rock. 

Tune one says, “well… you’ve gone and done it.  Might as well do some more ‘cause you done showed yourself not worth crap.  Hell!  You DESERVE this.  So go on.  Once more, with feeling.” 

Tune two is, “Oh crud.  I’m just so much filth.  I can’t believe I did that.  No god could forgive this.  What’s the point of trying to even let go of this.”

To combat this lie, I give you my Macaroni Art Theory of resolving sin. 

First, let’s take a look at you.  Yes.  Go ahead.  Get a metaphorical mirror and look at yourself.  You’ve got some talents.  Maybe some looks.  Some achievements, perhaps?  Money?  Maybe even fame?  Or maybe you don’t.  Maybe you look in that mirror and see nothing but muck.  No matter.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  All the success, and fame, and achievements, and talents, and good things that happen in a life… flush them down the toilet.  Yes… I mean that.  For the purposes of sin, flush. 

Why?  Well… If you succeed using a talent that God gave you, to who does that success rightfully belong?  You?  Sort of.  But in the end, it belongs to the One that gave you the talent and the opportunity.  That’s not to take away from those who succeed.  You have to put effort.  You have to put in the hard work.  But, honestly, how many award winners do you know that get the statue/medal/trophy say, “I didn’t all by myself.”  No.  they pull out slip of paper and thank just about everyone who had anything to do with the success.

So even if you don’t admit that God rightfully has claim to your success, you, at least, have to say He has a part in it.  So when you say, “Hey, God, look what I won.”  What are you doing?  At the very least, giving Him back the share He put into it.  That’s good, right and proper but, in a sense, at least were forgivness of sin is concerned, so nu?

But your sin.  That’s all you.  He had nothing to do with that.  He didn’t make you <insert least faltering moment here>.  So when you give your sins back to God, you are giving him the one thing he can’t get anywhere else. 

But why would you give The Heavenly Father, The King of Kings, and The Ghost with the Most your sin.  That’s like giving pre scratched lotto tickets to a beggar.  It seems, at the very least, bad form.  Not so fast. 

Think of a father.  Not your father if he was a schmuck.  Picture that ideal father from a Norman Rockwell painting.  Someone who cares.  Someone who loves you.  Picture him with some really fine artwork on the wall.  I’m not talking posters or knock offs, I’m talking the real deal.  Botticelli, Burn-Jones, Leighton…

Now you, say 5ish in age, have just come home from school.  Dad is sitting there, smoking a pipe.  You burst in and hand dear ol’ Da’ a raggy piece of construction paper with dried macaroni glued to it.  It’s in the, approximate, shape of a face.  You hand the “masterpiece” to Dad and tell him, “It’s a picture of you.  It’s not really very good.  And some of the macaroni fell off.  Sorry.” 

Any dad worth his pipe is gonna melt and proclaim it the best thing EVER.  And, truthfully, in his heart, it is.  It makes the great masters weep with envy simply because YOU made it.  It’s not the best.  It’s not even good for food anymore.  But it’s work rivaling the likes of Michelangelo.  

Why?  Simply because you thought enough to care.  Because you gave a rats backside in the midst of being yourself, he’s on cloud 9.  Ok… maybe someone told you to make the artwork.  Maybe it was part of class.  That doesn’t’ change the fact that it’s here, now, and making its way to the fridge.  It’s not the artwork that’s going on the fridge; it’s the memory of you caring enough to give it to him.  

So now picture God.   Picture you walking to the Heavenly study. “Um.  Dad.  I… um… have this mess to give you.  I… um… went outside the lines.  You can see that.  I’ll really try not to do that again, but… um… it’s really all I have to give you.  So… can you take it from me?  Sorry.”  The difference being that God doesn’t take IT to the ice box.  He puts something up there, but it really IS the memory of you handing him the mess, not the mess itself.  He proudly displays the moment you trusted Him enough with something that, truly, no one else could give Him.  The mess, at least between you and God, is now burnt up in the fire of the moment of your trust.  What rises from the ashes is forgiveness.

That is the true power of Sin.  Not in the destruction it can, and does, sow when left to fester.   Its power is in the simple hug from a Father that takes it and says, “It’s good enough for me.  For right now.  Now go run along and play.”  It’s the knowledge He has that someday, that macaroni art could be a Nobel Prize, or a MVP trophy, or even just the sight of watching you get a piece of macaroni art from your child and seeing your heart melt.

So the next time you feel unworthy of God’s mercy, just remember, you are.  We all are.  But that’s ok.  He doesn’t expect you the earn it.  He doesn’t want the Sistine Chapel; just the artwork we can make right now.  And like any good father, He’s happy to clear away some coupons on the fridge to celebrate it.

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Dante…

Conservative, educated, understands history, distrusts government, distrusts politicians, dislikes pop-culture, and carries a firearm. In short, I'm what The Framers of The Constitution were counting on and everything your government wants you to fear most.

The only thing I don’t have to complain about is some GI taking up space in my living room. I’ll let you know about the Civil Courts if someone ever owes more than $20 to me. ---If you didn’t get that one; sue your Civics or US History Teacher.


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