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  • Writer's picturePastor Nancy Raabe

The Danger of Dichotomy

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4) One could easily say that it's the "us vs. them" mentality that has gotten America into so much trouble. We are always quick to point the finger at "those people," just like the Pharisee did in Luke 17 who has come to the temple to worship but instead points his finger accusingly at the repentant tax collector : "God, I thank you that I am not like those people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector." As we coalesce around the common purpose of addressing systemic racism, the "thems" uppermost in many minds at the moment are the well-organized bands of mostly young white men who, we are learning, are being sent into the midst of peaceful protests to create chaos through destruction and terror--right down to the horrendous practice of large moving vehicles purposely plowing into groups of protesters. Horrified, I saw this defended in a Facebook comment: "If they're in the way of traffic, it's their fault." This is lawlessness. These "thems" have probably never known a God to turn away from--the classic definition of sin being the turning away from God toward the self. But let me suggest something radical: We, too, are guilty of lawlessness, because we too are sinners. As Paul tells us in Romans 3:23, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." While we remain firmly united in the stand against wanton chaos and destruction, let's be careful not to put ourselves on the Pharisee's pedestal. Instead, we can ask ourselves daily: How do we depart from God's law? Where is lawlessness within ourselves? Which commandment do we need lean into to correct behavior in which we, even fleetingly, have turned away from God toward our own selfish desires? Let us approach this daily discipline not with self-condemnation but with peace in our hearts. "Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of the Lord as salvation." (2 Peter 3:14). Christ be with you, Pastor Raabe

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