"For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin." Psalm 36:2 (NIV)
Recently, a publicity firm invited a group of editors of Christian publications to preview a Hollywood film. The film producers were looking to get the message of this film into churches and wanted feedback from people like me in Christian publishing.
The movie was dark, with a theme of unresolved guilt. Sadly, that guilt consumed the main character all his life, until he became a bitter old man. After we viewed the movie, the publicists turned on the lights and led a discussion. Basically, they wanted to know if we would recommend the movie to pastors. I stayed out of the conversation, because I'm a Pollyanna when it comes to movies. I like them happy and with a predictable ending. I know that's not very high-brow, but it's the truth.
However, the ensuing conversation intrigued me. Some people thought the movie was rich with important themes. They believed it would provoke thoughtful discussion. Others couldn't get past the language, and would never recommend it. One woman shared her opinion on the language with eloquence and passion.
She would never recommend it, she said, because of several instances of taking the Lord's name in vain. She defended her position by saying that too many people minimize sin. In fact, she explained, the film violated one of the Ten Commandments, to not misuse the Lord's name (Exodus 20:7).
The conversation continued with the challenge of relating to people without violating any of our beliefs. Our time together ended, and a few people got up to leave, including the woman who spoke against the movie. After she left however, another conversation began when a college-aged woman spoke up.
"My friends and I would never be bothered by the misuse of God's name," she said. "But we should." We sat in silence digesting her words.
That comment plays and replays in my mind. The honesty of that young woman touched me, as she identified a serious problem among those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus: we tolerate sin. In fact, at times we even re-label it as "normal." I know there's a fine line between being in the culture but not of the culture. But that's not the root of this issue.
That young woman identified the real source: our hearts. We are going to be around sin until we get to heaven. Sin is woven in our human fiber. That's not the issue. The issue is what I think about it. Do I hate anything that sets itself up against God or His character? Do I hate sin?
I guess there's a part of me that shies away from the word "hate." I've taught my children not to use it, and I guard my own thoughts and tongue. Yet in doing so I've tamed my response to something that separates me from God. I've weakened my response and dulled my senses to that which God hates. He hates it because it takes me away from Him. And He loves me…and He loves you.
Call it old-school religion, but it's time for me to reexamine my response to that which God hates. It's time to settle in my heart whose side I'm on. It's time to decide if I will ignore or hate sin. Yep. It's time.
Dear Heavenly Father, break my heart with the things that break Yours. Remove from me any tolerance for the things that oppose You. You are holy and righteous and worthy of any sacrifice I might offer. Forgive me for tolerating the thing that caused the death of my beloved Savior, Jesus. In His Name and for His sake, Amen.