Summary: The world thinks sin is anything they don’t like good people doing.
Tuesday of the 6th week in Easter 2019
I’m one of the folks who believes that lawyers are a bane on our existence until the day you need one, and then they are the best people on earth. In Jesus’s last sermon, in the upper room after the Last Supper, we hear that it’s better that Jesus ascended into heaven–better than if He had stayed here on earth–because He needed to ascend to the Father. We got a kind of trade in kind. The Second Person of the Trinity, the Son, Jesus Christ, ascended so that the Third Person, the Paraklitos, the Paraclete, the Counselor, could descend and fill us. The Paraclete is a kind of lawyer who speaks for us, who speaks in us, when we don’t know what to say to our adversaries or our friends for that matter.
But there’s something else great about the Holy Spirit. His coming is a conviction of the world’s error. The world is wrong about three fundamental issues: sin, righteousness and judgement. And the world is wrong about them in every age.
In the age of the Pharisees, the moral leaders were wrong about sin. They thought sin was any violation of some six-hundred plus formulas prescribed for the priests in the Temple, laws that the Pharisees made themselves obey. But the real sin was their sin, because Jesus proved Himself to be the Messiah and the Lord, and they refused to believe Him. They thought righteousness was obedience to those minute laws like keeping separate kitchens for meat and dairy. But true righteousness involves obeying the law of Love–love one another as Jesus loved us. And they thought judgement was what they did when they found the woman in adultery and were ready to stone her to death. The judgement Jesus made on them and the woman centered on some words He wrote in the earth, and on the injunction: “the one without sin may cast the first stone.” But all of us except Jesus are sinners, so we may not judge–only Jesus may do that.
It’s the same today. The world thinks sin is anything they don’t like good people doing. Sin, they believe, is disagreeing with the idea that two males or two females can marry each other, when the truth is that any intimate act outside a valid marriage between a man and a woman is morally wrong, a violation of the natural law and of a clear Biblical injunction. They believe righteousness involves holding the correct political opinions, acting on the left’s political agenda. And they judge freely that good acts are evil and evil acts are good. That’s why they can hound peaceful pro-life demonstrators for encouraging men and women to avoid killing their offspring. That’s why they can shout down speakers whose only offense is to defend the Ten Commandments or the U.S. Constitution, and feel righteous doing so. The world is still wrong about sin, and righteousness, and judgement, maybe more so than at any time in recent history.
Oh how I wish I had attended that prayer meeting in the prison with Paul and Silas two thousand years ago. Talk about bringing down the walls with song and praise. But it was the sainted jailer who benefitted. The earthquake threw the prison open; he knew that the magistrates would blame the jailbreak on him and he was prepared to kill himself rather than endure torture. But Paul saved his life twice: first by convincing him to put down his sword–nobody had escaped–and second by sharing the Gospel with him, so that he and his wife and kids and servants–everybody were Christians by the next day. You never know when you might be called to testify to Christ.
Saint William of Gellone, our saint of the day, “was a member of the famed court of Charlemagne. He was named duke of Aquitaine and chosen to lead a campaign against the Muslim Saracens in southern France.” He was victorious there. “Throughout his military career, he displayed exemplary chivalry and was honored as the ideal knight. However, he gave up the sword and became dedicated to the promotion of the faith. William founded a monastery at Gellone, near Aniane, and with Charlemagne's permission, entered the community as a monk. The abbey was later renamed Saint Guilhem-du-Desert in his honor. . .He was canonized in 1066.” In his day, he witnessed to the higher power of Jesus–beyond all earthly power–by assuming the posture of a penitent, subject to vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. Would that all Christians had that dedication. And so we pray, St. William of Gellone, pray for us.