I’m currently reading Richard Rohr’s book Breathing Under Water . He presents the idea of looking at sin as a disease instead of limiting the definition of sin to something that is unpleasing to God and is punishable.
What if we were to expand our mindset about sin? What would happen if the church would approach sin in people’s lives as an opportunity to deliver God’s healing presence rather than an opportunity to just deliver the diagnosis of terminal effects of the displeasure of God?
What if we would concentrate our efforts in providing a healing atmosphere instead of diagnosing all that is wrong with the sin-sick soul? What if we would provide as many doctoring visitations as needed? What if we stop pointing fingers at the bad choices leading to the havoc of the disease and instead offer an open outstretched hand? And in that outstretched hand we hold nothing but a promise of connection, of accompaniment on the path of healing. An offer of healing hope rather than a fateful diagnosis of terminal condemnation.
If sin were recognized as a disease, the church would become a hospital. A hospital that opens its door to all, withholds treatment from none who seek entrance. A place full of people displaying their wounds and admitting their need for help. A place full of people who trust others to treat them with respect and a caring nurture. A place where the homeless drunk is given the same level of treatment as the affluent CEO.
If sin were recognized as a disease, we would look for the Physician, for the Specialist who has the remedy. We wouldn’t only look to housekeeping to simply keep our rooms clean.
If sin were seen as a disease, we wouldn’t limit the healing process to recommendations of more prayer, more Bible memorization. We would admit that the disease is an on-going condition benefiting from multiple healing modalities. Prescriptions tailored to each individual, not religious placebos handed out en masse.
If we acknowledged sin as a disease, churches would offer those in need of healing, a place to stay for however long they need and the time needed for adequate healing. They wouldn’t expect instant recovery.
What would happen if sin would be approached as a disease? We would say “me too!” when someone dared to seek healing. We would grant the space for healing, the empathetic consideration for the hurting, the gracious offer of time to heal. We would visit the sick and offer our presence in their healing journey. We wouldn’t condemn when the symptoms came back, we would offer our sympathies that once again disease had the upper hand. We would open our doors to all and drive no one away by our insensitive condemnations.
May the proclamation, “Love heals”, invite the diseased to seek the healing presence that can only be found among those of us who display the wounds of our own diseased but healing souls.