What are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them?
You’ve made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur. — Psalm 8:4-5
The “original sin” idea is found in the mythic tale of Adam and Eve disobeying God and eating the forbidden fruit. It’s the writer’s way of explaining the origin of sin and evil.
That’s fine, but we sometimes forget that in the creation story that precedes this, in Genesis 1, God looks back over an amazing handiwork and calls everything “supremely good.” We have a tendency to mess things up; just read the headlines. But do we think we’re so powerful that we can get in the way of God’s ongoing work of goodness and beauty?
Maybe we should focus more on passages like Genesis 1 and Psalm 8. If we do, then we can start focusing on the image of God dwelling in us: the compassionate, hopeful, creative, imaginative side knit into our DNA. When I look in the mirror, I shouldn’t first see someone who’s sinned and can be redeemed only by someone dying on the cross. I should see someone who is loved and enjoyed by the Creator, the One who sent the Son to reveal the heart of my amazing Parent. Such a divine love inspires true change and growth.
Fr. Henri Nouwen expressed this beautifully in one of his daily devotions:
I realize that the real sin is to deny God’s first love for me, to ignore my original goodness. Because without claiming that first love and that original goodness for myself, I lose touch with my true self and embark on the destructive search among the wrong people and in the wrong places for what can only be found in the house of my Father.
A person’s “original goodness” is what Jesus looked for in people. It’s what we should look for in ourselves. That’s the best way to trump sin, original or current.