trading in sins

I had a short conversation with a friend today about vices… or probably more accurately… about sin. We talked about how instead of getting rid of sin in our lives we tend to trade in one sin for a more acceptable or easier-to-hide sin. It reminded us of a great line by Derek Webb, “I repent… by trading sins for others that are easier to hide….

In a culture of individualism driven towards success, we are tempted to hide our sins as we enter the church. Meritocracy and judgment seems to trump grace more often than not, making it unsafe to air our dirty laundry. And in a desire to look put together, successful, desirable, or to win praise, we start trading in our sins, one after the other, until they are successfully hidden away or disguised in acceptable behavior.

But no amount of trading or hiding can ever get rid of that sin. It’s still there, just successfully buried away.

So, what is needed? Community, confession, and grace. We need communities marked by trust and commitment to each other. Where people look for the best in each other and truly love each other despite our brokenness. We need to become confessing communities, where those sins and vices we would rather trade-in or hide-away can be exposed to the light. We need confession so we can find God’s forgiveness, so the power of sin loses it’s grip on us, and so we are surrounded by a community as we work our way out of that sin. And finally, we need grace. We need God’s grace to forgive us and free us, and we need a community that embodies that same grace, constantly celebrating the prodigal son as he comes home.

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