As Christians, we tend to view our sin as personal, to be eliminated as much as possible throughout our lifetime so that we may walk closer with God. Our Sunday School teacher, Nat Burns, used to remind us years ago: “Keep your sin list short and your prayer life long.”
We were of the “newly married” stage in life and his point has stuck with me for the better part of two decades. When we make sure to communicate with God daily and reflect on our sin, it’s significantly easier to grow our walk with Christ. Most of us know this all too well, from personal and sometimes very humbling/humiliating times when we allowed sin to fester and grow.
But our community/corporate sin is another matter entirely, because it involves the wrongs that we have committed as a whole, rather than individually. Even the concept itself is difficult to wrap our minds around, especially without the benefit of hindsight.
We see several examples of community sin in the Old Testament and attempt to learn from those examples in our Bible studies, small groups, and Sunday School hours. But bring up the issue of collective sin in the 21st century and listen as the room falls silent.
Slavery, civil rights, and segregation have all been collective sin topics that are more recent, and rightfully remain front and center in healthy Christian discourse.
In our home, we privately discuss (and pray about) the one arena which may be our downfall as a collective sin, not only in the United States but in other regions as well: blind allegiance to party politics, rather than the passionate pursuit of Christ.
In a seemingly never-ending cycle of nauseating fracas, we see the bitterness of party lunacy above all else — and it’s on both sides of the aisle.
Not only is the middle ground gone, we Christians seem convinced that either one political party or the other has “the true policies,” when in fact Christ himself would likely be sickened by the whole farce. Caring for others has fallen to the wayside as we belittle those on the ‘other side,’ and Christian love has been reduced to a term we use as a weapon.
Perhaps the war of politics has become our new collective sin; may we pray God will open our eyes, forgive us as a people and free us from what we have become.