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Thinking about Lent, Sin, and Grace

Posted: August 6, 2010 by Rob Voyle

Many people at our appreciative inquiry training programs, because of its very positive approach, ask what is an appreciative inquiry understanding of sin. While we take sin seriously, we take growing in grace even more seriously and make that the focus of our attention. We don't try to reduce the presence of sin directly, for that leads to St. Paul's conundrum in Romans, where the harder he tries not to sin the worse it gets. What we focus on is grace and how we can grow in that, and discover like St. Paul that where grace abounds, sin cannot.

When Jesus healed the blind man he refused to entertain ideas about the origins of sin and whose sin caused the man to be blind. He focused instead on the grace of God that was to be manifested in the man's healing. The traditional focus during Lent has often been on reflecting on the commandments and how we have broken them, which just makes us experts on sin, which can be very demoralizing and not lead to a grace filled life. An appreciative approach would be to also reflect on the times that we have kept the commandments, what enabled us to keep the commandments, and how that has been a blessing in our lives and in the lives of our neighbors.

"Jesus didn't come that we might have less sin and death,
he came that we might have life,
and share it abundantly with our neighbors."

Rob Voyle

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