About six months ago I was at a youth retreat (my original post following it can be found here), and the speaker shared three simple principles that have been on my mind the last week or so:
Communion: n. the state of being united as one with another (co-union)
1. We were created for communion. That’s what Eden was. Adam and Eve, they literally went on walks with God, the creator of the universe and igniter of the stars. God and man enjoyed each other. The thing is, because we were created for communion, if we don’t find it with God, we start looking for it in other places. For instance, the communion within a family, a marriage, is intended to be healthy, a reflection of our communion with God. But take God out of the picture, and you start looking for that communion in extramarital sex, same-gender attraction…We seek satisfaction from the pacifiers: friends, school, career, extracurriculars, achievements, escape–but pacifiers don’t meet the real need, and you’re always left still hungry, even if the baby stops crying for a while. In Eden, God came looking for us, but we hid because we knew we’d done wrong. But even when I’m hiding in the closet from my heavenly Father, I don’t stop being his daughter, his little girl. Because I’ve been born again, I don’t have to remain beholden to sin. I’m just holding onto chains already broken.
2. My sin violates communion. So when I became a Christian, when I was cleansed of my sins, I had communion. That’s one kind of communion, the communion that means I won’t be separated from God forever. But what about the sins I committed today? It fractures communion. It breaks it. It puts a wall between me and God. Jesus came so that communion could be restored, but sin breaks that. Yes, he forgives, he cleanses, and he has defeated sin. But let’s face it: I don’t have a perfect relationship with God. There, I said it! And when I’m feeling that gap between me and God, well, it means there’s a fracture in communion.
3. Communion can be restored by confession and repentance. Not in an endless cycle kind of way, but in an oh, so this explains why I’m having this problem kind of way. Real quick:
Confession: admitting your sins to God (I work with kids, and we explain it as basically tattling on yourself) Repentance: turning away from your sin
So basically, the thing these three key ideas revealed to me in a new way was the direct relationship between my sin and my closeness to God. Sounds basic perhaps, but, well, it’s easy to miss, isn’t it? In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with everything imaginable thrown at us, in a world where certain sins are culturally acceptable and even celebrated, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks. And it’s easy for some sins to seem less than others. And it’s easy to make excuses, to justify and rationalize until the situation becomes to convoluted with “technically”s and “well, at least…”s that you’d think we’d realize that the fact that we feel we need to provide all this justification of our own only proves the case that it’s not right at all. It’s easy for some sins to seem small. It’s easy for habits to not be counted. Maybe that’s why, at camps and retreats, we can feel so much closer to God, in such a purer way. It’s because we’re not just away from distractions and obvious temptations, but away from habits. Habits like breaking your parents’ rules or snapping at your siblings. “Oh, it’s nothing. It doesn’t really matter.” I’ve realized that maybe that explains some of the distance. That, well, maybe there are some sins in my life that need to go. Oh, not the big, weighty, abstract things–it’s the small but real disobediences fracturing communion and sowing rocks. So may you, as well, find what causes fractures in your communion. May you offer it as a sacrifice on the altar and watch it burn. May you experience the purifying freshness of his Spirit and his grace falling on you like rain and may you be covered in the dust of your Rabbi.