Many years ago we moved a thousand miles and I went to a new ophthalmologist for the first time. Unfortunately, my file did not make it before the appointment. The doctor looked at my eyes and the contacts I was wearing at the time and shook his head. “Who fit these? He obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
A week later I returned to his office. He had received the file and read it through, noting the nanophthalmic eyes and the incredibly steep corneas. “Your doctor is a genius,” he pronounced. “I don’t know how he did this. You shouldn’t even be able to wear contact lenses, but had he not been able to do it, you would be blind by now.” Nothing about my eyes changed, but the doctor’s opinion certainly did.
Then there was the difference between the lens implant surgeon in Cincinnati and my glaucoma surgeon. The first considered the lens implant almost a failure because my nanophthalmus had skewed the formulas and I still could not see well. The second considered it a success because I could still see at all.
Only a few weeks ago, I had a visit with the retina guru after a “retina event” as they called it in the glaucoma hall. The tech there declared it impossible for the doctor to be able to see into “these tiny little pupils. You will most certainly need to be dilated.” (This, in spite of the fact that my chart is stamped in large, red, capital letters DO NOT DILATE.) The retina doctor knew better than to dilate someone with my symptoms and overruled her. Later, when the glaucoma doctor looked into my eyes, he said, “What are they complaining about? These are nice big pupils.” Of course, he has been dealing with them for years.
You see, good for me is bad for you, at least at the ophthalmologist’s office.
Many things are like that. If you’re from the north, you think Florida winters are warm and springs are hot. If you are from Florida, you think the northeast is arid. You would probably turn to dust the minute you walked into Arizona. And because we understand the concept of relativity, we have a tendency not to see the awfulness of sin, particularly our own. I’m not bad, we think. I haven’t murdered anyone, I haven’t stolen from anyone. I don’t lie—well, at least not big black lies. And there we go excusing ourselves because we can always find someone worse than we are. Paul, in another context, mentions those who measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, concluding that they are without understanding, 2 Cor 10:12. We are too, if we think we can get to Heaven by comparing our lives to anything other than God’s standard
Nothing is relative when it comes to sin. When we think we can decide which sins need to be repented of and which don’t, when we think we can choose a standard of our own, whether a person or a personal credo, when we think we are the ones who get to draw the line, God will not tolerate even what we consider the tiniest of sins. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a sin by any other name will still rise as a stench in the nostrils of God.
There is nothing relative about sin. It is a theory that will always prove false.
For whoever shall keep the whole law yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of it all. For he who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not kill. Now if you do not commit adultery but you do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as men who are to be judged by a perfect law of liberty, James 2:10-12.
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