Missing the Mark
The Greek word hamartia is the word most often used in the New Testament for sin. It means “missing the mark.” I’ve been told it’s a term that was used in archery, though my research in big books with big words has yet to confirm that this is what the gospel writers had in mind.
So what is the “mark” that is missed? From the whole of Scripture, it appears that the mark is union with God. This, the mystics tell us, is the point of it all. To be one with God. From beginning to end, Scripture tells us of a God who desires to be with His people. He made us for Himself, to be in fellowship with Him. And the Bible is all about His forms of mediation with His people, culminating in the ultimate mediator, His Son. We so often think of sin simply as screwing up, violating the rule, something to feel guilty about. But what if it’s deeper than that? Like, much deeper.
During our daughters’ first year at Oaks Academy I heard one of the staff communicate that they teach the children that sin is “anything that damages relationship.” That really stuck with me, it was such a rich definition. And that’s really it, isn’t it? Even theologians tells us that sin is anything that takes us in the direction away from God, away from fellowship with Him. Away from what we were actually made for!That is the deeper layer, and what really hurts–taking ourselves away from closeness with God by violating what keeps us close to Him. Our Creator designed us to live life in affectionate relationship with Him, in consanguinity*. Brain study is just now telling us what God has been telling us all along for thousands of years, that we are wired for connection. I wonder if it makes Him chuckle when He sees scientists publish these articles of “Hey, We’re built for Connection!” Well….yeah. (Ana showed me a really great article the other nite on how we are made to connect and how deep connection is the true healing for addiction. It appeared to be a “secular” article**.)
So the pain of missing the mark is not feeling like a pathetic idiot who messed up for the 400th time, it’s the breaking of fellowship with our Creator for which we were designed. It’s what all the commandments lead to–right relationship. With God. With each other. All of the Ten Commandments are about relationship. Even the keeping of the Sabbath. Think about it. When you don’t take a break to rest, recharge, and refuel, you become quite the butt clown to deal with. I do. I get agitated more easily, impatient, an overall jackhole. So God graciously gives us Sabbath to rest, not to ignore, so that we may remain relationally well connected to Him and others.
So perhaps we need to rethink what sin is. Or think more deeply about it may be a better way to say it. It is missing the mark, yes. But that mark is way deeper than simple rule keeping. That mark is our purpose and design. That mark is close, intimate connection with God. And missing that, misses everything for which we were made.
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria