by Michael Maciel
As an archery term, “sin” means not hitting your target. This implies that you’re aiming at something. But it also implies that you might be aiming at the wrong thing, that your goals in life are misdirected, or that you aren’t even trying.
So instead of being an indictment of your inability to shoot accurately, sin might be more about not shooting at all. Maybe you’ve given up. Maybe life has been hard and you have grown resentful and cynical. Maybe you have come to believe that there is no higher meaning to life and that nothing you do makes any difference.
Such a mindset is dangerous. It leads to cruelty and wanton destruction. This is what makes sin the source of evil in the world, not just the tendency to make mistakes.
Shakespeare said that there is nothing good or bad but that thinking makes it so. It’s our interpretation of the hardships in life that make them good or evil. Of themselves, hardships are neither. Life is simply difficult. There’s no getting around it. The secret to happiness is being okay with that, not thinking that the universe is out to get you personally.
If you have accepted the fact that you are going to die, then you can structure your life in such a way that maximizes the benefits that life has to offer. But if you are in denial about death, then you’re going to be constantly running away from it, and the likelihood of your life being meaningful diminishes. Because meaning is the product of building something good, whereas running away is the product of fear. And fear is nothing on which to base your life.
So you see, sin is not simply making minor errors as you go about pursuing your goals. It’s more about your overall orientation. Are you for life or have you given up? Have you grown cynical? And as a result, would you rather that the world come to an end because the suffering is just too much? And if that seems extreme to you, you might do well to realize that the most murderous thugs in history had this exact same mindset.
Sin is a mindset. It is the mindset that pits you against everything good in the world. When Cain killed Abel, he did it because he felt that God was being unfair. Abel’s sacrifices found favor with God, whereas Cain’s did not. Are you resentful because all of your “best” efforts fail to give you the life you want? If your resentment grows, it can lead you to become cynical and eventually nihilistic, where life ceases to have any meaning, where life is a cruel joke perpetrated by an uncaring, dictatorial deity or, worse yet, no deity at all. When you see the world through such a dark lens, everything becomes evil, and you get to assume the all-important role of becoming its savior where your sole purpose is to destroy it all.
This is sin.