I was reading Sara Miles' book Jesus Freak and came across these lines:
I tried to remember what Jesus preached constantly: mercy. It sounded like an abstract theological principle, but I clung to it to keep me afloat in what was otherwise an inexplicable sea of human sin. Mercy. It was all that could help me give up my self-pity and judgment.An inexplicable sea of human sin. Whenever Jana and I are trying to explain the stupidity, vanity, meanness, thoughtlessness, shallowness, duplicitousness and self-absorption of ourselves and others we are, more and more often, using this shorthand assessment: "It's just sin."
Which makes us sound like crazy Christian fundamentalists. But the tone we are using is not one of rage and judgment but that of pity, sympathy, and sad resignation. We are, pretty much all the time, a sad and sorry lot. And say what you will about Christian doctrine, but the label "sin" does more to describe the human condition than any term from my discipline of psychology.
And all that sin, in ourselves and in others, demands a response. How are we to live with all this sin? I think Sara Miles has it right in pointing to Jesus. Mercy. That's how we move through the world. That's how we must deal with each other, and with ourselves. Mercy.
More and more, that's what my theology boils down to.
Sin and mercy.