Do we need Easter for more than an excuse to eat chocolate? I will be the first to admit that I have a chocolate problem, but the truth is we need the facts of Easter because we have a sin problem. There is that awful word again, the one people don’t want to hear causing us preacher types to reach for words like brokenness instead. But call it what you like, we have a sin problem. What solutions have been proposed for the sin problem? How might we deal with it?
We might consider the solution of Atheism. A universe that came about quite on its own through natural processes would not have a sin problem. On this understanding there really can be no such thing as sin, just moral preferences put in place by one’s culture. Study history, however, and pretty soon you can’t help but ask “how could they?” as we learn of atrocities people commit against one another. “Why not?” is answer. And under atheism, that non-answer is a good answer, the question however, is inappropriate. Don’t judge the actions of those who would sacrifice their children, that is just where they were at in the evolution of our species and their culture at that time. But deep down, even the most enlightened free-from-God atheist will feel, though perhaps never say, that most religious of words: sin. Yes, there are things that ought never happen in any culture, humanity does has a sin problem, and so atheism fails in trying to reconcile recoiling-from-sin guts with religion-spurning heads. Besides, is there good enough evidence that God does not exist? The fact that morality exists is evidence for.
We might consider the solution to sin proposed by Karma. If you sin, you will receive justice at some point in the future. It will come back to haunt you and you will pay for it. By the way, if you are suffering now, it is because you have sinned in the past and are now paying the penalty for those sins, so don’t complain. You deserve it. One thing that we can say for this perspective is that it has a nice tidy way of making life seem ‘fair.’ Justice is always done, no one suffers without good reason. The downside comes when we may not want to alleviate another’s suffering for fear we will upset the penance that they owe. Also, does karma speak to reality? When you consider the suffering some people are born into, for karma to work you really need reincarnation. And if reincarnation were real, and people really could work off their bad karma so that they escape the cycle into Nirvana, one would expect a diminishing population. However, studies have concluded that the population just keeps going up and up. So that is not going to work as a reasonable solution to sin. Besides, what is the evidence to back up the reality of this solution.
We might consider mere forgiveness as a solution to sin. God could just forgive sin as if it never happened and erase our sin problem. Some religions will point to a forgiving God, in fact I was impressed while reading the Koran of how often Allah was referred to as being merciful. However, if God just forgives sin without penalty, then while our sin problem might be dealt with, we now have a justice problem. If there is forgiveness, where then is justice? Can a merciful God also be a just God? Simple forgiveness of sin is also not a satisfactory solution to our sin problem. And again, what is the evidence to back up the existence of a God who merely forgives?
Finally, let us consider Jesus as the solution to our sin problem. Through Jesus the perfect justice of God and the perfect grace of God collide in a blood soaked mess on the cross. Humanity could not have been more ignorant, more confused, more hateful, more self-serving, or more deserving of a good old flood than at the cross. But it is a flood of love, grace, and mercy that flows. And yet, it is also a flood of justice. The penalty of sin is paid. A penalty that we could not pay ourselves has been paid for us. Further, the one who looks to Jesus for forgiveness and justice is called to pick up a cross and follow, and is given the Holy Spirit to lead. This is a solution to a sin problem, not only for our standing before a Holy God, but also in a real practical way expressed in life. Only in Jesus do we find a satisfactory solution to our sin problem. And, as a bonus, there is evidence that Jesus lived, died, and rose again!