The Other Sinner: Relational Decline and It's Antidote
I picked up an old notebook yesterday and found the following words scrawled on the final page. They're my words, written some time ago, I don't remember when. It's rough, and I'd obviously intended to polish it up, to work out its thought, but here it is unpolished.
We're all living in the aftermath of one sin or another. Our own, and those of others. That's an ongoing reality--life as we know it. In our relationships we encounter him often--"the other sinner." We learn to be careful, to not be drawn out into the open, to be guarded, wary, untrusting. And the gifted among us learn not to show it.
Let me take you back to the Garden, where it all began. You are Adam. You are Eve. You've just listened to the serpent and allowed yourself to respond to his carefully calibrated nudge. This little parable is going to to be repeated again and again, ad nauseum. There will be the hiding, then the faux "coming out," fig-leaves and all, that is only a more subtle and deceptive kind of hiding. This "here I am" is just a more carefully considered lie.
And the thing is, we all know that this is the way of it. Thus, in our relationships, there is always an element of suspicion, a questioning of motives. This seems absolutely necessary, reasonable, and justifiable. But it is a tool of the destroyer. This justifiable mistrust leads inevitably into relational decline--the progressive corruption of relationship. Who has not seen this? Who is not sadly familiar?
What is required here--Lord, help us--is that we respond to others as if they were not sinners. As if there were no ground for judgement. Is this not the essence of enacted forgiveness? And is this not the way back from the precipice of relational despair?