I recently came across this definition of sin by Jim Keenan: “Sin is a failure to bother to love.”
This surprised me because the word sin usually just conjures up images of a list of don’ts that begs the question, often yelled, “WHY NOT?” In Keenan’s way of thinking, sin is more a poor posture towards living than just something we do against society’s moral standards.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, the Levite and the priest were probably within their society’s moral boundaries by not bothering to serve the bleeding man on the side of the road but sinned because they failed to bother to love the man. Love was not a priority in their way of life and that became a problem.
But what is love? Dallas Willard says:
Love is not a feeling, or a special way of feeling, but the divine way of relating to others and oneself that moves through every dimension of our being and restructures our world for good.
One of Jesus’ disciples, many years after Jesus’ public ministry, said “He who does not love abides in death.”
One thing that has helped me love better (for there are many times when I haven’t bothered to love) is asking myself, “What is the most important thing about this other person?” So often, my answer is not all the things they have done for me or against me or how loving they have been towards me but simply this: “They are a child of God, made in his image, one that God is especially fond of, a brother or sister in Christ.” This fact demands that I bother to love that person the best way I know how. To bring them consolation, a life giving connection with God, is the way of Christ and essential for any hope. But oh so much easier said than done.
May we all be bothered to love today. That may mean that we have to Grow Up in certain areas and put away old patterns of behavior but that simple act of love is life giving and is restructuring our world for good.