One of my favourite moments each time I led the Alpha Course was when I spoke about sin – not just because I am good at it!
I drew a picture for the students. You are in the supermarket, by the stationery counter, and someone walks up to the shelf, picks up a pen and puts it in his/her pocket, then just walks out of the store. Your natural reaction is to think, “He stole that.” You might even start to shout about it, or run to the security man and tell him. People shouldn’t be able to do that. They shouldn’t get away with it. It’s stealing. It’s wrong. It’s sin. “Thief! Stop thief!”
Then I would ask them if they had ever been at work, or in the bank, or the Post Office, filling in a form, and just absent-mindedly popped the pen into a pocket or a bag. Many and most nodded. “So,” I would ask, “what does that make you?”
Most of the time there would just be a gleam of realisation and re-thinking on their faces, but I remember one lovely lady diving into her bag, pulling out a pen and forcefully shoving it into her friend’s hand, almost in a panic. She had “borrowed” the pen some time before!
Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal?
(Romans 2:21-22 NLT)
I feel that we can easily rationalise our own sin, so that it loses a lot of the horror. There is always someone out there worse than me. It’s only a pen, they only cost pennies. It wasn’t expensive, therefore it wasn’t stealing, therefore it isn’t a sin, therefore I’m OK. Therefore, I am a GOOD Christian and I am an example to all! I can teach others………
The only problem is that I have this huge plank in my eye, and I can’t see where they are, eh?