Scripture Reading: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Some were sick through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities endured affliction; they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress; he sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. — Psalm 107:17-22
I believe that sin is separation from God. The Greek word often used by Jesus in regard to sin essentially means missing the mark*. In modern language we might talk about being out of synch with God. The word “iniquities” used here seems to relate to guilt and punishment*. These words are being used in this Psalm to describe actions of one against oneself. Apparently those being addressed had lost all hope and were starving themselves to death. Most of us probably do not relate care-of-ourselves or lack of care-of-ourselves to sin. Yet Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31) Now Jesus is not talking about having an overinflated ego. I think he is calling our attention to the fact that all our neighbors are made in the image of God as are we. We should not take that lightly.
The United States has experienced a flood of racial bigotry recently, with people using words that kill the hearts and souls of our neighbors and setting horrific words to music they probably learned in Sunday school. It is enough to make Jesus weep. I wonder how much of this need to be better than another is a result of people not recognizing that they do not have to be better than anybody else to receive the full love of God. In fact their lives will be so much richer in love when they share fully in the love of God and the love of all of God’s children.
Prayer: O God, forgive us for not loving with dignity and worth all your children made in your image including ourselves. Amen.