(Note: This is a continuation from yesterday’s writing. If you haven’t read it, please do to clarify this blog)
From yesterday, our list of Good and Bad were…
Good: weep for those in trouble, grieve over poverty, hospitality, caring for the homeless.
Bad: lust, lying, adultery, denying justice to workers, not helping the poor/widow/orphan, not clothing the needy, put my trust in gold instead of God, idol worship, rejoicing over my enemies misfortune, hiding sin out of fear of others’ opinions.
In this, the earliest vice list in the bible, what do you notice about what God calls Good and Bad? Notice how many of them are communal: caring about, grieving over, being kind to others. Even the things we consider individual vices today (lying, adultery, lust) are really communal. In fact, the only ones that don’t involve another person involve God: idolatry and faithlessness.
Today we’ve taken this to an unhealthy extreme. “As long as I’m not hurting anyone, anything is fine.” “What we do in the privacy of our home is none of your (or God’s) business.” But this list is so much more than our individualistic take on morality. It once again shows that the Christian life, and therefore Christian morality, is communal.
Today, while we rail against people for their stance on abortion or human sexuality, we tend to ignore the things in lists like this, things like caring for the poor and homeless, and clothing the needy. And we seldom think about our emotions as being sinful, things like weeping for those in trouble, grieving over the poverty in our world. But without the emotion behind it, without compassion for others, our care for them will be short lived.
What if we prioritized community not just in the church but in the city in which we’ve been placed? What if the greatest sin we could think of was that someone might have to live in their car while we could help them? Or wear tattered clothes when we have closets-full that we don’t even wear? It’s easy to demonize adultery or courtroom injustice, but what about our own sinful misuse of wealth, or lack of compassion for the poor, the neglected, the homeless, the foreigners and aliens in this world?
What if we reordered our own vice list to better align with the Bible’s?