There is something called “original sin.” One belief about original sin is that it is a direct result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Thus, because of their actions, from that point on, all people have had a like “hereditary malady” that prevents us from a perfect relationship with God and neighbor. Jesus Christ, however, is the “new Adam,” and his sacrifice is the only prescribed cure.
The above contains a lot of orthodox, religious “buzzwords.” Some may have difficult time deciphering all of that. Sorry, but it is the best I can do with limited space.
Another way of viewing original sin is that it does not necessitate an examination of the precise interactions among God, Adam, Eve, a fruit and a serpent. This is simply to say that we are human, and humanity is naturally flawed. We are all born this way. So even a newborn is “sinful.”
Again, an adequate explanation of the word “sin” is difficult to do in this limited space.
Here’s a shot at it — although perhaps an oversimplification — I am going to replace “sinful” with “selfish.”
A newborn is naturally self-centered. It is fully dependent upon those around them to provide for their every need — to be fed, have diapers changed, and generally receive care.
As the child grows, it is also only natural for them to continue to be selfish to some degree, even into adulthood. And why not? A person needs to grow and discover themselves. They “fill their cups” with these things: education, job, skills, relationships (such as marriage, and having children).
The hope is that people will become less selfish along the way. Some are more successful at this than others, but we all fall short of perfection.
Jesus offers forgiveness for our imperfections and gives us opportunities to try again. He also provides for us an example of “emptying the cup.” It is a term used for self-sacrifice.
So Jesus’ forgiveness is poured out for us and we should, in turn, pour it out for others. This is calling us to be less selfish.
It is like the contrast between a newborn that has constant self-serving desires, and a grandparent that would do anything for their grandchildren.
God is love. I believe an original intent of our existence is also to love. Jesus may help us become less self-centered in fulfilling this call — not so much to be served as becoming a servant for all.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.