I’ve never actually tried archery, but I’ve played darts plenty of times. If my success at darts is any indication, I would be a lousy archer. I almost never hit the bull’s eye, and have been known to miss the entire dart board on numerous occasions.
More importantly, I am, and we all are, a lousy archer in a spiritual sense. In the New Testament, one of the Greek words that we translate as sin is an archery term that means to miss the mark. But in life, what is the mark? It is the state of perfection that God desires for us. It is optimum health, behavior, and performance for happiness and closeness to Him. But we all miss it. (Romans 3:23).
Some equate the word sin with real evil. All agree that murder is a sin, stealing is a sin, and child molestation is definitely a sin. But when we confine the idea of sin to the “really bad stuff” I think we miss the point. Sin is really any behavior that does not show that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and that we do not love our neighbor as ourselves.
That last bit I think is really important, that phrase “as ourselves.” So much of what we do does not suggest that we love ourselves. We eat too much, which is not good for us and can lead to a shorter, less healthy life. We spend time on mindless activities like television or online games, which are not good for our spiritual or emotional health (not to mention that couch potato syndrome that once again is not good for a healthy body). We throw ourselves into our work, spending 40, 50, 80 hours a week trying to earn a living and make a name for ourselves, all to the detriment of our stress levels and health. All of these things, and more, take our focus off of God and what is His perfect will for how we should live. All of these things are sin because when we do them we fall short of the glorious life God wants us to have, and to share with Him and each other.
I am grateful that even though I am not perfect, that I miss the mark on a daily basis, God still loves me and wants me to have a relationship with Him. I am thankful for those mountaintop experiences when I am close to Him, trusting completely in Him, and in glorious fellowship with others in my life. I am also grateful that He does not leave me as I am. When I engage in behavior that is not health – either physically, spiritually, or emotionally – His Holy Spirit gives me a little nudge to remind me to correct that behavior. In fact, that happened as recently as yesterday (here I’ll say “sorry for not sharing the details” or “you’re welcome that I spared you the details,” depending on whether you were really interested). God is contantly working on teaching me to be a better archer. I still miss the mark more often than I’d like, but over the years He has taught me how to at least get closer to the target more often. Thanks be to God.