Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Great Separator

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59:2)

According to Isaiah, sin is The Great Separator. It is sometimes argued that things such as intolerance and prejudice are the culprits, but when these twin attitudes are displayed against innocent, truly undeserving victims they are unjustifiable—in short, sin, which is my original premise. Whether it is churches, families (or any other inter-personal relationship, for that matter), sin is the wedge that severs the fellowship and unity. If this is true with God, why should we think it strange or inappropriate with the rest of us?

More often than not, the individual who points out the sin is thought to be the “separator”; when, in reality, he or she is only an honest observer of the true culprit. For instance, a child may feel that the doctor who diagnoses a serious illness and places a beloved parent in a hospital has separated him or her from someone he or she dearly loves. But, of course, the truly compassionate doctor has wisely identified an illness that would affect the whole family for an even longer period of time, if the patient was not isolated temporarily and medical care administered. It is only the child’s immaturity that keeps him or her from understanding this.

It is important, I think, to remind us that it is the face of God that is effected by our sin, not His love. Romans 8:38-39 makes this abundantly clear. It does not harden His feelings toward us, but it does hamper His ministering to and for us. Isaiah, speaking metaphorically in verse one of the chapter tells us that sin removes us so far from the presence of God that He cannot quite reach us and has trouble hearing us. His hand is no shorter, and His hearing has not deteriorated, says the prophet, but sin has put us at such a distance that the Omnipotence of God is no longer potent as far as we are concerned. If you and I as children of God could burn that analogy in our minds, I think we would be less inclined to be tolerant of sin—in ourselves or others.

Sin defiles and damns and destroys. It sets husbands, wives, children, and friends at odds against one another. It separates us all from someone at various times in our lives, and it separates us from the face of God any and every time in our lives. Wouldn’t it make more sense to separate ourselves from the true culprit—The Great Separator?

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