What is the root of sin? Is it pride? Oh certainly a prideful heart could be the source but as I was reading the account of the Passion Week again this year it occurred to me there could be something motivating me at an even deeper level. What if it’s fear?
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1Jn 4:18
Fear breads an anxiety driving us to grab the controls. It’s a fear of not having a deep instinctive need met. It’s an overwhelming fear and insecurity of being found out. Of being exposed. We look at ourselves and feel that longing to overcome our inadequacy and incompetency. A fear of rejection and sense the floor may give way bringing on a rush of blinding pride. Instead of an honest inward look of self recognition we quickly turn away and in our pride we launch a desperate plan of salvation. These commitments run deep. When they don’t deliver they are the stuff that drives us to impulsively run or hide, fight or flight. Think Judas. Think Pilate. Think Peter. (read Mt 26-27; Jn 18-19, “The Man Born to be King”—Dorothy Sayers)
This is all review. It’s as old as the garden. We exert our autonomy much like the very first couple who became convinced God was holding back and the longing for comfort and pleasure could only be theirs if they seized that piece of fruit.
We will do almost anything to prop up and salvage what’s left. Sin makes us crazy people. We are in need of a radical grace fueled intervention to even begin to see things the way they really are. “The saddest condition to exist in is to reject God’s love or to live like it does not matter”, C.S. Lewis. The deception runs so deep that once our ultimate commitment is made to our own plan it will take an earthquake to shake us loose from it.
“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” — from Mere Christianity
What can open our eyes? What can bring that moment of discovery? What can give us the self-awareness we are all so desperately in need of?
“Humility is nothing else but a true knowledge and awareness of oneself as one really is. For surely whoever truly saw and felt himself as he is, would truly be humble. Two things cause humility. One is the degradation, wretchedness, and weakness of man to which by sin he has fallen: he ought to be aware of this, partially at any rate, all the time he lives, however holy he may be. The other is by a superabundant love and worth of God in himself: gazing on which all nature trembles, all scholars are fools, all saints and angels are blind.” [From “The Cloud of Unknowing” by an anonymous monk in the Middle Ages]
1Peter 5:5b-7 — “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
“Humility is a synonym for honesty and it is built on the deep foundation of the love of God.” (Jerry Root)
– David Ortiz