Q: Who is the worst sinner you know?
How different life would be if we all believed this! Recognising our sin-prone-ness – and our inability to ‘cure’ ourselves from this condition – is perhaps the fundamental Christian virtue. God offers us as many second chances as we need, provided we are trying to serve him.
A recent talk paralleled Christianity with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). On the face of it, not much common ground. But when you realise that Alcoholics Anonymous is founded firmly on Christian principles (which was news to me), and that we are in many ways addicted to sin, the parallels are clear and I found them useful. Alcoholics Anonymous has a successful “Twelve Steps” programme, more than half of which make specific reference to God. We considered a shorter “Seven Steps” programme for ‘Sinners Anonymous’:
1. We can’t cure ourselves from our sin-prone-ness. No matter how hard we try to be Godly, we will always be drawn towards sin (Jeremiah 17:9).
2. We must rely on God to save us. ‘I can’t. He can. Let him.’ (An AA saying, apparently.)
3. We need to be honest with ourselves. Remember your responsibility for your actions.
4. Share and talk together. We are sinners together and should be open (probably more open) with our failings (James 5:16). Oh, and remember that those in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones (John 8:7).
5. Make amends to those we have harmed (Matt 5:23).
6. Give back to the community, and share externally (Matt 10:8).
7. Live a new life with a different code of behaviour (Roman 6:1-14).
Perhaps the most challenging part of all this is to really admit to yourself and others that you are in desperate need of God. So much of the social construct around us seems designed to lead us towards self-reliance. But the fact of the matter is that only by relying on God can we have hope, both now and for the future.