It doesn't take a seasoned flier to see that the world really is flat. From up here the horizon stretches on forever, illuminated by the orange of a setting sun. I can see how the pre-Columbusians could have not known the world was more than what they could see from their vantage. And here, centuries later, we're still hoping our suspicions about what the world really is or isn't are really true after all.
It doesn't take a seasoned liver, though, to see that the world is not quite so curved as we'd like it to be.
I used to think that my sins counted against me, tally marks piling up ready to eliminate me from the game entirely. My good works worked in much the same way, do enough and perhaps it will all balance out. I say that I used to think this, but the truth is that I still think it much of the time. I am not beyond a little tally marking of my own in regard to you either. Grace is my second nature, but sin is my first one.
I set out on my exploration of God, setting the spirit's wind in my sails and I'm finding the world is flatter than I once thought. Sin is the great leveler and this both stings and comforts. It stings because I want to be better than you and it comforts because I know I never will.
God knew we would want to grade on a curve, so he flattened it for us.
Paul knew we'd struggle with a flattened world and so he hurried to assure: "Should we keep on sinning so that grace may abound?" He shudders. "May it never be!"
But I'm conscious still of those tally marks, not because I want to measure them against yours, but because I do want to keep grace in the front, abounding, my piteous sin there to point out its constant need and goodness.
I can appreciate Christopher Columbus and his exploratory efforts: it is far too easy to take advantage of a flat earth and easy walk.