Getting untangled

If you’re into fishing with a rod and reel, it’s likely you’ve seen a ‘bird’s-nest’ occur. It’s a horrible tangle of bunched up line that forms when an excessive amount of your line flies off the reel. It can happen because the drag on the reel is light, allowing the spool to spin too freely -faster than the line going out.

Murray Smith

I’ve witnessed nightmare examples end the fishing expeditions of one or two ‘hopefuls’ since it’s usually a time consuming mission getting the rod usable again.

A ‘bird’s-nest’ is reminiscent of the tangle that people’s lives can get into. The Bible has lots to say about how messed up humans are, though not exactly using my analogy of a ‘bird’s-nest’!  The Bible uses vocabulary for this topic which is foreign to many people – using words like: sin, iniquity, or transgression.

Since such language describing the human condition appears ancient and dated, it’s often dismissed as backward and irrelevant. That’s unfortunate, because those Bible words offer a profoundly accurate diagnosis of human condition.

‘Iniquity’ describes crooked and ingrained patterns of wrong-doing that keep cropping up-  often generationally. To ‘transgress’ refers to over-stepping a known boundary and breaking trust. ‘Sin’ is actually the most common of these bad words in the Bible. The origin of our word ‘sin’ comes from Hebrew and Greek words meaning “to fail” or “miss the mark.” It’s an archery term actually, describing an arrow falling short, missing its destination.

“Sin” has massively entangled humanity. Each of us, individually. It’s wrecked havoc in our ability to ‘do’ life well and to understand our true identity- it’s caused us to forfeit (fall short) of our purpose. How? The Bible describes every human as made in the image of God- a sacred being with dignity, designed for relationship with Him. Our sin severely damaged that- you see, sin is doing bad things, but it’s more than that. Sinful actions flow out of choosing to operate independently from God. That inbuilt bias to write our own rules about right and wrong have alienated us from Him. From there, we readily justify ourselves and spin illusions to redefine our bad decisions as good ones, thereby making a false ‘god’ of our own desires.

Perpetually breaking God’s laws with little recognition of how tangled up we are, most people conclude they’re doing okay. This prompted one writer in the Bible, to describe our predicament as being “slaves to sin.” Take lying for example – everyone’s lied. Who hasn’t created a ‘bird’s-nest’ trying to cover that one lie, by telling more?

Not a pretty picture of ourselves. But being honest, it is realistic.

That’s why as explained in the Bible, the record of Jesus coming is such good news.

He came to earth fully God, yet truly human in every way. He never failed at any point- that is, He never sinned, moreover He took responsibility for humanity’s history of failure. His death paid the penalty for our sin. Being raised from the dead He extends salvation and forgiveness, restoring our track record of failure.

Getting untangled, we’re able to live doing what is right.

Book of Isaiah. Photo: Brett Jordan,



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