In the film ‘Grand Canyon’ , a lawyer driving a flashy BMW meets a diversion on a motorway. Turning off, he is loses his way, driving into an urban wasteland of ruined buildings, and a dead-end street where his car stalls. Managing to phone for roadside recovery, he waits, but is surrounded by a group of threatening youngsters – Bling, expensive trainers and baseball hats.
The recovery vehicle driver, arriving just in time, confronts the gangsters with a speech:
‘Man – the world ain’t supposed to work like this. I’m supposed to do my job without askin’ you if I can. And this dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you rippin’ him off. Everything’s supposed to be different than what it is here’
The story illustrates the condition that the Old Testament calls ‘Khata’. The English word ‘sin’ is more familiar, but has almost disappeared from our vocabulary as a negative, outdated judgmental word – to do with ‘wicked’ sex, or with trivial ‘naughty but nice’ things – eating cream cakes or chocolates.
The bible’s word is much deeper and more wide-ranging than that that – Sin means ‘missing the mark’ – life being ‘bent out of its proper shape’- serious and large-scale distortion of the God-given goodness of life.
Noticing this bad stuff – on the big scale (Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missiles, Grenfell Tower &c), and the individual scale (shopping addictions, habitual lying, celebrity worship &c.) is good for us. Far from being negative or pessimistic, taking responsibility for our part in ‘Khata’, is the road to freedom. It is ‘waking up’ to the God who forgives sin, and to the possibility of being part of the solutions to the world’s agonies.
‘This ain’t what it is supposed to be’ – but with the help of Jesus Christ – life can be different. In the poetic words of Psalm 85:
The promise is that, despite ‘Khata’, all of human life can be renewed.