There is evidence that at least some birds are able to see beyond the visible spectrum of light to ultraviolet light. Birds can see things with their eyes we cannot see with ours. It is believed that they can see markings on each other that aid them in recognizing and distinguishing each other.
As humans, we both pursue this ability and fear it. We desire to make ourselves look unique within the crowd and we want to be distinguishable, yet at times we also wish to disappear in perfect camouflage. Keen observers can often pick up clues that betray the fact that a person’s attempted persona may be just an act.
On a deeper level, we all bear marks we wish we could hide. Because they are rarely visible, we can ignore them or even deny them, but we cannot remove them. The marks are the stains and scars left by sin. We are damaged goods, despoiled and defiled.
Our ability to see these marks is hindered even more because we seek to excuse or ignore some of them by amplifying others. A clichéd example is the church that preaches against fornication and adultery followed by a potluck where gossip and gluttony abound. It is a cliché because it happens often enough to be reinforced in our minds. We all tend to be blind to certain sins, either deliberately or subconsciously.
We have these marks. We cannot erase them or cover them up. Even if we only have one mark, it is enough to disfigure us. Only key one door of your new car and it’s still marred. Let the waiter’s nose drip just once into your soup. You get the idea.
We forget these marks because they are familiar to us. They surround us. We have never know life without them. It is easier for us to imagine a world without hair than a world not scarred by sin.
But we ignore or deny these marks at our own peril. Worse than ignoring a growing lump that might be cancer, these marks indicate that we are damned. Not just a little bit, but forever. We bear marks worse than leprosy. We do not have to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” as we walk, but it is still obvious that we are unholy.
If we fail to remember this uncomfortable truth, we live in denial of our place in creation. We are rebels. We are prodigals. We all, like sheep, have gone astray. We are not doing God any favor by coming to church, but are coming as those who have been rightfully expelled for infidelity and who plead for mercy. We come in humility because we truly have nothing to be proud of before our Father. We come to be washed in the waters of baptism and fed by the body and the blood. We come to be reminded of the marks that the unblemished, sinless Son bore that we might be cleansed of these stains of sin.
Never forget what Jesus did for you.
Never take lightly what it cost Him.
And never assume that if it cost Him His very life,
that it won’t also cost you yours.
Sin is not something to be winked at, ignored, or celebrated. It is to be fought against with every ounce of energy we have because it separates us from God. We should no more surrender to it because we have already done it than a soldier should willingly be wounded because he’s already been shot once.
We’re damaged. We’ve been told that Jesus has made a way for us to be with God in spite of this. Let us not treat it with spite by presuming upon his grace and continuing to live in sin.