from Death on a Friday Afternoon
Richard John Neuhaus

It is difficult to face up to our complicity because the confession of sins does not come easy. It is also difficult because we do not want to compound our complicity by claiming sins that are not ours. We rightly recoil from those who seem to wallow in guilt. The story is told of the rabbi and cantor who on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, lament their sins at great length, each concluding that he is a nobody. Then the sexton, inspired by their example, laments his sins and declares that he, too, is a nobody. "Nuh," says the rabbi to the cantor. "Who is he to be a nobody?"

Who am I to be a nobody? Especially as God has created me to be a somebody in His image and likeness. And yet, so long as I continue in my sins, this sinner is, in fact, a nobody--in direct opposition to God's will I insist and demand that I be nothing at all to the Body of Christ. Sin does that to one--the terrible sense of freedom and of doing everything "My way." And then the terrible sense that my way is long, winding, crooked, unpaved, unshaded, and awfully lonely.

Until I leave off sin and seek to do the will of God, I am a nobody. Unless and until I can surrender to God and take my rightful place in the body of Christ, I am more an infection in the body of Christ, a rogue cell, a carcinogen, than I am a properly integrated member. And outside of the Body, there is nothing at all. If I am not part of Christ, I am part of nothing--literally, for nothing that was created was created apart from Him. Outside of Jesus, I declare my affinity with nothing at all. That is the price of the freedom I insist on in my sinfulness.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 10, 2006 9:01 AM.

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