Categories: Rector's Corner

Sin: Missing the Mark

Sari Ateek
Sari Ateek, Rector

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV

Sin. We tend to hear this word in church a little more often during the season of Lent than we typically do the rest of the liturgical year. I’m sure that each of us has our own reactions, associations, and history with this word, and for many it is a word that brings up feelings of shame and guilt, and a host of other negative emotions that might not serve us well. In my own spirituality, I find it helpful (whenever I encounter the word “sin”) to return in my mind to the original meaning of this word.

In the New Testament, the word for sin is the Greek word Hamartia which simply means “missing the mark.” The primary image here is that of an archer missing the bullseye. The reason that this New Testament definition works better for me is because it mitigates the tendency to globalize the word “sin” as a general statement about who we are, and instead provides a more biblically-accurate concept: We are all made in the image of God, but we don’t always reflect that image in the things that we say and do. Sometimes we miss the mark.

We might all agree that in spite of our desire to be the best versions of our true selves, sometimes we miss the mark. We may know what constitutes the ideal for us as individuals and as Christians, but our words and our actions don’t always reflect this ideal, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

How might this shift in definition serve you this Lent?

Sari Ateek
Sari Ateek

The Rev. Sari Ateek is the rector of St. John’s. One of the many gifts Sari brings to the church is his conversational preaching style.