The church has a name for this universal experience, and it is the term “sin”. However, at this point it is necessary that we extract the term “sin” from all of our fundamentalist western notions, and instead try to rethink of it anew. I find it helpful to try to see sin as a universal virus, a problem which the early church called a “distortion”. To distort a thing is to misshape it, and thus not allow the thing to remain in its original form, much like a virus does to our bodies when we catch it. This gets at the heart of the term sin, which literally means miss the mark, or perhaps, to miss the point of the design.
What is that point? The point or goal is a successful 3-fold relationship. It is a successful relationship with God, with others, and with our creation. Who can argue or deny that there is within us a force that distorts us so forcefully that we cannot have right relationships in these 3 areas? If we are to rediscover sin, then we must come to know it, but particularly as it is at work in ourselves.
To accomplish this we must be clued into the fact that sin is a power. It is a power that blocks our freedom to live in right relationship we know we should have; with God, with others, and with our creation. The teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the ancient church instruct us to begin to deal with our distorting power by searching out its presence is in ourselves.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Mat 7: 3-5
The truth passed down to us by the church is that we must to learn to ask ourselves; how is my relationship to God, to others, and to the creation not right? It is at that point that we can begin to rethink “sin”.