This is one of those verses that can get super dry and meaningless if we’re not careful. It’s a shame because it’s so powerful. But it often happens when we hear a passage a lot, and this is definitely one that gets tossed around quite a bit.
One of the issues with God as a father imagery is so often we put the face of our own father experiences over the face of God as he is revealed in Jesus.
For many people, the father was the disciplinarian. He had rules, and when you didn’t follow, you were in trouble. Maybe he was over-involved, maybe he was aloof, begging the question, “does he even care about me?”
Whatever your experience with breaking your father’s (or mother’s) rules, does a similar thing when you see the word sin. We all know the definition – to miss the mark, or to fall short. But when you read the bible as a whole narrative, sin seems to be a bit different than just breaking some arbitrary rules. After all in this chapter, Paul even says that sin was even in the world before the Law was (v13). Cornelius Plantinga in his book Engaging God’s World said it like this:
Sin is culpable disruption of shalom
Shalom is nearly impossible to fully wrap our minds around, it is the concept of wholeness, or everything being just as it was intended to be. The best glimpses we get of it are before the fall, and the end of Revelation where we get the vision of the new heavens and the new earth.
When Adam and Eve sinned by that definition, they disrupted God’s intentions for the world. And that disruption affects all of us, and not just humans, but we read passages about the earth groaning as if in labor pains (Romans 8).
How much better then, is the thought that Jesus death and new life, gave us entry back into this shalom if we want it.
Not only that, try reading Romans 5:8 through that lens: While we were still disrupting and shattering God’s shalom intentions for ourselves and his world, Messiah died for us.
We weren’t just breaking his arbitrary rules, incurring his wrath.
We were and are causing ruptures and rifts in the shalom that Jesus brought back after Adam and Eve had interrupted it.
There are a lot of lenses to view sin through, law-breaking is certainly one, but I’ve found recently that Plantinga’s description has given me an even larger view of the destruction of sin, and in turn a larger view of the work that Jesus accomplished through his death and resurrection.
May we be bringers of Shalom, in the name of Messiah Jesus.