Blame-Shifting Away Our Sin
The practice of taking responsibility—and repenting—is an important Christian discipline for two reasons. The first is that it authenticates our witness in an unexpected way. I don't think the world expects Christians to be perfect. I don't think we need to be faultless in order to have a credible voice. Why? Because a Christian's credibility springs not from the absence of fault, but from how she responds to it.
Throughout the history of the church, Christians have sinned in both private and publics ways. When we do, we diminish the power of our witness to some degree. However, the humble acceptance of blame proclaims a witness of a different sort. It testifies to the greater reality that I need the grace of God. Rather than frantically preserve my own reputation, I acknowledge my frailty and then point to the one who never fails.
The second reason we must take responsibility for our actions is theological. When we engage in blame shifting or excuse making, we subscribe to a squishy view of sin that minimizes personal guilt and strips all meaning from cross. If sin is not that serious, then the crucifixion was a fool's errand. If our guilt is not that great, then Christ's death was unnecessarily cruel.
A soft view of sin also produces in us a cheap view of grace. As Jesus explains in Luke 7:47, whoever has been forgiven little loves little, but whoever has been forgiven much loves much. If we want to truly love and worship God for all He has done, then we must grasp the weight of our sin. Likewise, if we want our children to understand God's sacrifice for them, we must instill in them a sense of personality accountability.
I am not suggesting that we swing hard in the opposite direction of the culture by raking ourselves over the coals. Christ took on our punishment and we can add nothing to it, nor should we try. However, repentance and restoration cannot occur without responsibility. It is a hard discipline, but it is one we need not fear. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Rom. 5:20), so in the words of Martin Luther, "Sin boldly." God is ready to extend mercy.
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