Once a month, I meet a friend for breakfast. We’ve only known each other a few years, but there was an immediate bond that has deepened with time.
We talk about news, sports, families, but most of all, we talk about faith — our struggles, our progress and the hints of God in our lives.
We call our time together “mutual spiritual direction.” Others probably refer to it as “the blind leading the blind” — but then the sightless often have another way.
My friend and I have very little in common. I was blessed with a loving, supportive family, while he grew up in the throes of abuse and addiction.
He found his way into a Bible-rooted, Spirit-fruited religion, while I have tried to be Catholic.
He made a living with his hands, while I relied on words. I visited the dark margins of the world, but he lived in them.
We have different politics, different hobbies, different lives — and that’s what makes it so special.
Given our polarity, there is probably truth in something we agree on. Take the other day when our discussion turned to sin.
We both thought that sin is overrated. Oh, we agreed that it is real, destructive and life-sucking, but maybe we give it too much prominence.
“The wages of sin are death,” Paul tells us. But apparently, those wages are paid on a commission basis. It is the commission of sins, acts of transgression, that are noted in our imagined pay ledger. We are urged to avoid temptation, the ever-present lure to indulge ourselves in the forbidden, and try to tread a sinless path.
While that’s all good, Jesus reminds the rich young man that sinless is not what we’re shooting for. Luke’s beatitudes and Matthew’s day of judgement are much more about doing than not doing.
What if we looked at our daily lives through a different prism?
What if we noted temptations to virtue, those fleeting opportunities in every day to do some small good for someone else?
What if an occasional examination of conscious focused not on our failures, but on the acts of kindness we did that day?
What if we looked for those “good temptations” that we missed? Not to dwell on the selfish reasons for resisting them, but to remind ourselves that our days are full of invitations to live, as Genesis says, “in the image of God.”
Just not sinning is never enough, my friend and I agreed.