If we look at the Bible and we consider our own lives as Christians, we’ll see that there are two categories of things that we mourn: our own sin and also the sinful state of the world at large.
Mourning our Sin
There is seemingly no end to the number of people in the Bible who model or speak to the state of contrition the Lord’s people live in because of our own personal junk.
- • David wrote in Psalm 51:3, “For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me.”
- • When Ezra heard of the sin of the Jews taking place while they were attempting to rebuild the temple after their captivity, he began his prayer like this (9:6) – “My God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face toward you, my God, because our iniquities are higher than our heads and our guilt is as high as the heavens.”
- • When the Apostle Paul contemplated his inability to overcome covetousness and all the sin that cascaded from that, he cried out at the end of Romans 7, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
What about you? Have you ever entered into a sincere moment at the end of the day and reflected on your life? “What have I done, what have I said, what have I thought, how have I behaved?” If we were to truly analyze ourselves like this, we would mourn.
Mourning the Sin of the World
But this is not just about our sin. We also see a lot of mourning in the Bible over other people’s sins … or the sins of the culture at large.
- • This is why Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb. He saw this horrid, ugly, foul thing called sin which had come into life and had introduced death. He wept at the unbelief of those around him.
- • This is why Nehemiah, upon hearing the state of the remnant in the city of Jerusalem, mourned and wept for days. His God was mocked and God’s people were in shambles because of their sin, and he wept.
- • In Philippians 3:18, Paul wrote of the false teachers troubling the churches of his day. “For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
It is proper for Christians to look around at the state of the world and be broken, frustrated, hurt, disappointed, and even angry. There’s something wrong with our theology if we don’t look around at the state of the world and respond with those feelings. We can’t be indifferent to major, societal issues like racism or trafficking or the lack of ethics in leadership, nor global issues like a war on the other side of the world. In fact, one could argue that there is a direct relationship between our personal contrition and our mourning for the sins in the world. Because we grieve over our own sin which is almost always against others, we find ourselves having more in common with our community, so we take more steps to make things right. More about that later.
The Somber Christian
But for the moment, let’s camp out on mourning and its necessity in the kingdom of God.
In the same way that Christians, being poor in spirit, are continually acknowledging their unworthiness before God, we are continually mournful of our sin and the sin in the world. It’s just always there. We are continually growing in our awareness of God’s holiness, and continually growing in our awareness of the depth of our sin and the sin in this world, and as a result we are just always carrying around the reality of those two things, and it’s SAD. Christians just always have a sobriety about them. The Christian life, according to Jesus, is not all joy and laughter.
Dare I say it is unbiblical to portray the Christian life as something that always resembles a Pharrell Williams song. There is plenty of happiness (blessedness! because of the comfort! I’m coming to that!), but to portray Christianity as something that evades or escapes mourning is one of the un-Jesus-like things you can do.
Rob is Teaching Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.