The Sin Spectrum
I have several friends who have children on the autism spectrum. I admire the way they fight for their kids to get the help they need. They have learned that while it is important to have expectations for their children, those expectations must be tempered with compassion and discernment.
I see this same heart cry in other friends who have children with varying difficulties; ADHD, behavioral issues, turrets, anxiety. The list goes on. Parents today face so many issues with their kids that at times, it can become overwhelming.
But one of the hardest stages is the undiagnosed stage. Parents know that there is an issue. They know their kids better than anyone else and are fully aware of their child’s need for support and assistance. But until the doctor has signed off, they are unable to move forward in getting their kids the help they need. No one WANTS the diagnosis and yet for the child’s sake, the diagnosis represents opportunities for progress, rather than the constant feeling of being in a holding pattern.
My kids have not been diagnosed with any particular issues, but they all have unique struggles. There are times when I feel like I need to constantly defend them. Please show them grace, I beg. They are a work in progress, I cry.
You see, my kids are on a different kind of spectrum, one that we are ALL on. It is the sin spectrum and no one is exempt. It says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
The problem is that not everyone understands the gravity of the sin problem we all experience. There is a common belief that man is basically good, therefore, if we all try a little harder, we will be the best versions of ourselves. By ignoring the sin problem, we think that life will be easier. No one wants to think badly about themselves, right?
But when our sin is left undiagnosed, there is no opportunity for change. We are left trying to fix ourselves and the older we grow, the more obvious it becomes that we have a problem that we are incapable of fixing. And so our hearts continue to break and we continue to try putting bandaids on the problem.
I understood my diagnosis of sinner when I was 4 years old. My parents and my sisters were the first missionaries in my life, telling me about Jesus and explaining my need for him. I understood this need then, but for most of my life, I have struggled with truly understanding my utter depravity. I was a good girl. I did a lot of “right” things and so it was hard to believe that I was truly awful. My Dad would talk about being saved from the pit and he would get teary when he would talk about being a worm. But I didn’t get it. I was saved before I dug a pit for myself. My pit felt more like a little hole in the ground. And if your problem seems small, then the grace needed will be small as well.
I wanted more grace. I heard others talking about grace and their eyes would light up. We would sing about amazing grace and it stopped me short. What’s so amazing about it?
I began to pray that I would have a deeper understanding of grace. I’m convinced that God loves these kinds of prayers, not because He wants us to struggle, but because He can see the end result. He knows what His work in us will produce and He can’t wait to get started.
And get started He did! He took me through a painful season. I began to see that all of my righteous deeds were filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Sure, I was serving and volunteering and doing a lot of great things, but my motivation was myself and my own glory. Ick. I began to see the ugly parts of my heart, the areas that I kept hidden. Or so I thought. They began to pour out, almost as if Pandora’s box had been opened. My pride, my anger, my bitterness and resentment. Gossiping. Manipulation. Comparisons. Selfishness. All on display before me.
And I discovered in my heart the truth I had always known in my head. While we see sin as a spectrum with murderers on one side and white liars on the other, God sees sin as sin. It separates us from Him and the divide is just as wide regardless of the sin committed. We need a Savior and there is nothing we can do in ourselves to make ourselves right with God. If you are struggling to understand grace, please hear this. You can never make yourself good enough for God. There is no earning a right relationship with him. The number of times you go to church, your faithful prayers, your baptism, your confessions, your ability to recite the chatechism- NONE of this will save you. Only Jesus can. Only by accepting his sacrifice on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, only by believing that He was raised to new life and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, only by believing that he has given you new life in Him can you be saved.
We have received our diagnosis. We are all on the sin spectrum and nothing we do can fix this issue. Only grace can step through and give us hope. Are we willing to accept Christ’s advocacy on our behalf? Are we willing to lay down all of our own striving and fully trust His gift of grace in our life?
If not, we look like my kid trying to lick her elbow.
Remedy: By faith alone, by scripture alone, through Christ alone, by grace alone, for God’s glory alone