Among the saddest media moments of the last decade was the public self-destruction of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who made international headlines in 2013 for his public drunkenness, lewd behavior, and, later, videos of him smoking crack appearing on YouTube. He quickly became fodder for Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. He was an (embarrassing) topic of water cooler conversation for months. And the whole time, his family stood by him, denying that he was in any real danger.
“Robbie’s not a drug addict,” his sister, Kathy, told reporters. “If you want to consider binge drinking once every three months and you get totally plastered, which he just makes a fool out of himself…fine.”
We laugh at men like Ford, who died of cancer in 2016. I suppose we turn people like him into a perverse form of entertainment because it’s too painful to do otherwise. But we can’t run from it, anymore than we can ignore it when a squeaky clean teen idol changes her image to prosti-tot at exactly 12:01 am on her 18th birthday.
We’re not really any different. We are all prone to pretend that sin is something other than what it is. We are all prone to chase that which is only going to destroy us:
- Some are looking Mr. Right, and are happy to settle for Mr. Right Now.
- Some are searching for fame, and are glad to take online infamy.
- Some are pursuing influence, but settle for people pleasing.
It’s easy to say that we need something better to pursue. I mean, we do, but it’s not that simple. I fear we don’t take sin seriously enough to say that. We are probably more like the Black Knight, with our arms and legs hacked off, shouting, “It’s just a flesh wound,” than any of us would care to admit. And this is where we have to start. We need to take sin seriously: we need to admit to ourselves, even if to no one else, that it really is as bad as God says it is. When we do:
- It helps us see the cost of our own salvation.
- It encourages us to love the gospel more fully.
- It motivates us to pursue others with the hope of Christ.
The gospel is good news in the fullest sense of the term. And this good news is made more so when we see our sin for what it truly is. God hates it, but he loves us. It cost Jesus more than we can ever imagine, but he saw only joy before him (Hebrews 12:2). The gospel is beautiful, and it is more beautiful when we take sin seriously.