Christians say they hate sin, but love sinners. Do Christians really love sinners? As children of God, we have been entrusted with the most precious gift that exists. As 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (ESV) says:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”
God is making his appeal to mankind through us. We have been made ambassadors for Christ. We have received a significant gift and very valuable good news. Why then do many Christians keep the good news of Jesus and him crucified to themselves? Good news should be shared. and we are the ones who need to share it.
I have heard many excuses for why we don’t share the good news of Jesus and him crucified. Some feel they do not have enough knowledge. Others say they don’t know how to share effectively. Still others say that the harvest is ready elsewhere, but not in America.
You say you don’t have enough knowledge. If you don’t know the story of Jesus, how then were you saved? Do you know that all people sin? Do you know that no one can earn salvation? Do you know that Jesus bore our sin? Do you know that he suffered for us in his crucifixion? Do you know that his righteousness was imputed to us? Do you know that through the vicarious death of Jesus that God has adopted us as his children (and therefore co-heirs with Christ)? Then you know enough to share the good news of Jesus.
You say that you don’t know how to share the faith effectively. Do you know how to love people? Do you know how to be kind and compassionate toward people? Do you recognize the needs people have? Are you able to take care of those needs? Do you know how to engage in conversation? Do you know how to let your life be an example to others? Do you know how to take an interest in the lives of people? Do you know how to ask questions that will help them think about their own worldview? Do you know how to introduce people to other Christians? Do you know how to invite someone to a Bible study or worship service? Then you know enough to share effectively.
You say that America is not ready for the message of Christ. Is no one hurting? Is no one lost? Is no one looking for answers to life’s most important questions? Is no one looking or love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control? Is no one seeking eternal security? Then America is ready for the gospel of Jesus.
The truth is that we have made excuses for too long. We have been entrusted with the answers to the most important questions of life, namely questions about origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Every other system of faith is based on a human being’s ability to live righteously (which no one of us can do perfectly). Only in Christianity does the creator of heaven and earth take on the form of his creation, identify with the suffering of his creation and die for his creation. If the story ended there, then there would be no good news to share. But the story continues with Jesus being raised from the dead. This fact is verified by the empty tomb, the eyewitness accounts of hundreds of Christians, and the hostile testimony of those who deny that Jesus was raised from the dead (they said his body was stolen because they could not produce it). See http://crosstalkin.wordpress.com/resurrection/ for more evidence of the resurrection. What great news we have to share!
Sure, people have tough questions that need answers. And there are good answers to those difficult questions. We only need to do a little research to find good answers on websites like
. If you know how to find information on the Internet than you know how to say something like, “let me look into and think about that question and let’s discuss it again later”.
The reason America is in such a mess is because Christians have been silent for too long. We have huddled together in the safety of our church families and have failed to share the truth of God with a lost and dying world. It’s time to live lives that are consistent with what we believe. It’s time to engage our culture with the message of Christ. Its time to speak and not remain silent. Its time to love our neighbors as ourselves. Its time to speak the truth in a loving, winsome, courteous and respectful way.
Are you ready to be an ambassador for Christ? If not, I urge you to get ready and get to work before its too late! Jesus is coming soon. We must use the time we have been given to make a positive difference in the lives of others for both time and eternity.
Our Bible study group just started a study of Romans, one of my favorite Bible books. If you are familiar with Romans, then you are well aware that the first couple of chapters talk about how sinful human beings are. On reading these first chapters I began to recognize that our culture, like much of first century culture, is saturated with sin. The worst part was that I recognized that I have allowed my own life to be influenced far too much by the sin that is everywhere around us, especially in the television programs and movies that I watch.
If we had a high view of how holy God is we would recognize just how sinful we are. In English we have a way of describing the degrees of intensity of a certain attribute or characteristic when we describe people. For example, we may say one person is fast, a second person is faster and a third person is fastest. We may say one person is good, a second person is better and a third person is best. In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the intensity of an attribute or characteristic may be communicated by use of the same word one time, two times or three time in a row. For example, Jesus would occasionally say, “Truly, Truly, I say to you” when he was about to say something important.
The Bible says about God that he is Holy, Holy, Holy indicating that his holiness is to the ultimate possible degree. The Bible never says God is loving, loving, loving; or merciful, merciful, merciful; or just, just, just; or omniscient, omniscient, omniscient; or omnipotent, omnipotent, omnipotent; etc. It only says he is Holy, Holy, Holy.
As I began to think about the topic of sin more deeply, I began to wonder whether Christians really hate sin. We preach against it and we strive to avoid it (at least publicly), but do we really hate sin? In our efforts to “build bridges” to the world around us in the name of influencing the world for good, we have to realize that those bridges allow two way traffic. We can influence others for good as we relate to them in our everyday lives, but they can also influence us – and obviously have. This is not necessarily a bad thing, we just need to be aware that in relationships with others, influence is a two way street.
If you have been negatively impacted by sin, welcome to the human race. We all struggle with sin, even Christians. Yet we serve a God who has called us to be holy as he is holy. God cannot tolerate sin. His righteousness and justice requires Him to eternally banish sinful people from His presence. There is a place of eternal punishment and condemnation (in spite of what some pop-Christian books say) that is reserved for those who reject God and decide to follow their own sinful desires. Its our sin that separates us from God. We all deserve eternal condemnation because we are all sinners.
At this point, someone might ask, “If God is so good, why did he allow evil and suffering to exist?” That is a good question. If there were no evil, would we really be free? If there were no evil, would we be forced into a relationship with God against our will? If there were no evil, would there be good? If there is good, there must be evil. If there is good and evil, there must be an eternal, transcendent moral absolute. If there is an eternal, transcendent moral absolute, there must be a God. The shadows prove the sunshine.
Even evil glorifies God. God’s righteousness and justice are revealed by their contrast to evil. We see this in our own lives as parents. Our children recognize that they are justly punished when they disobey us. That’s what I mean when I say that the shadows prove the sunshine. We recognize what is good and beneficial because we see the things that are bad. Sometimes we even have to do something that is bad to bring about a good outcome. We see this when we are faced with two bad choices. For example, doctors may treat a person with a bone fracture. They may be forced into breaking a bone to set it properly. Breaking a bone is bad, but allowing it to heal incorrectly thereby negatively impacting the person’s ability to walk is worse. The best choice in that situation is to do something bad (break the bone) to bring about a good outcome.
Thankfully God has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him. God sent his son to do what we couldn’t do. He lived the life we should have lived, he died the death we should have died, he buried our sins in his death and he was raised so we could share in a new life like his. When we receive Him, a unique transaction occurs. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us and our sins are laid on Him. Jesus is the only way to salvation. We can choose to reject Him or receive Him. God wants all of us to be saved, but he won’t save you against your will. As C.S. Lewis said, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.”
Since we are surrounded by so much sin and evil, what can we do to live to the high calling of Christ Jesus? What can we do to avoid sin’s negative consequences? Here are a few suggestions of things I have tried with some success:
- Avoid situations that we know will tempt us to sin
- At the moment a sinful thought begins, replace the thought with an appropriate prayer
- When confronted with negative TV, radio or websites, leave the situation and go read your Bible
- Replace bad words with some other word – for example yell “ah” when you hit your thumb with a hammer
- Remember that your children want to be just like you
- Remember that what you do influences both the time and eternity of those around you
- Avoid friends who have a bad influence on us because “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
As Christians we are called to be different. We are called to live lives that are consistent with what we teach and preach. I am curious what suggestions you might offer as we all strive to live to the high calling of Christ Jesus. If you have good suggestions to offer, please add them in the comment box below.
This post speaks very strongly about sensitive issues in our society today. Let me say before you read further that my intent is to help clarify thinking on these issues, not to hurt anyone who has been touched by these topics. In fact, if you have participated in any of the sins described in this post, then I say to you welcome to the human race. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness from the wrath of a holy and righteous God.
The good news is that what we were powerless to do God did for us by sending his Son as the perfect sacrifice for us. He lived the life we should have lived. He died a death that we should have died. Our sins were buried with him and by his resurrection we are justified. The Bible says about Jesus “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 12:20). And again the Bible says:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21)
If you have been touched, or hurt or felt condemned by participation in any of the sins described in this post or by having such sins forced upon you by others who violently abused you, I am deeply sorry. My prayer for you is that you would be healed of the hurt, of the guilt and of the pain of sin by recognizing the one hope we all have in a savior who saw our suffering and chose to join us in our suffering. By his stripes we are healed. By his death, we live. The hope we have in Christ is for an eternity with God that is indescribably magnificent, making all the pains of the life bearable.
The Democrat Party and Romans 1
In our nation the two primary political parties used to agree on the moral values that were part of the framing of our nation. These values were considered timeless and were memorialized in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution of the United States of America. These truths were thought to be “self-evident” and “unalienable”. The political parties agreed on these issues and disagreed on economic issues.
A new day has come. In our last election, the Democrat party adopted a platform that is against the “self-evident” and “unalienable” moral values that were the basis of the formation of the greatest nation that has ever existed. At once, the Democrat platform promotes:
- The passing out of condoms so people can fornicate and commit adultery at will
- If an “accidental” pregnancy occurs they advocate killing the baby
- The party seeks to promote homosexual marriage
- The Democrat platform even left God out until the convention itself
Worse the Democrats even promote each of us participating in these practices by paying for them with our tax dollars. At the Democrat convention, the party put God back in their platform (he had not been mentioned in their platform prior to that). Had I been at that convention, I would have wholeheartedly promoted keeping God out of a platform that so strongly violates His will.
Essentially, the Democrat party adopted a platform that is consistent with the practices that are condemned in Romans 1. After articulating the “self evident” invisible attributes of God (His eternal power and divine nature revealed in creation) Romans 1 states each of the following that seem consistent with the platform the Democrat party stands upon:
- Verses 18-20 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”
- Verses 26-27 – “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
- Verses 29-32 – “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Ouch! This list includes sins I have participated in.)
How have we strayed so far that one of our political parties would adopt a platform that clearly violates the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration we say that we “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Many of our laws were based on the historic values of life. Now due to the dysfunction of our government our nation promotes doing to an unborn baby what is illegal to do to an animal. We have a law that says you are free to murder an unborn baby. We have another law that says if you kill a pregnant woman you are guilty of a double homicide. Our laws are bipolar and dysfunctional.
Those on the other side of these issues say we are bigoted and mean-spirited for speaking so boldly against these views. What they fail to understand about us is that as Christians we believe life is sacred. We believe marriage is sacred. We believe sex is sacred. We believe that God has made these a holy and sacred part of the created order. Life and marriage and sex are wonderful things. God gave these gifts to us. They are holy and right when fulfilled in a monogamous relationship between one man and one woman for life, just as God designed it.
Fire is a wonderful thing in a fireplace, but when you take out it outside of the fireplace it will burn your house down. In the same way, the healthiest way to procreate is in the sanctity of the sexual union between a man and a woman who have committed to love each other for their whole lives. The healthiest way to raise a child is with a mother and a father. The healthiest way to express the most intimate love of all is between a committed man and woman. This kind of love is more of a commitment that says each party to the marriage will seek the best interest of the other party to the marriage no matter what. It is the same kind of love that God has for us. It is the “agape” love that seeks the interest of another over self-interest. Sure the emotional love is great, but it needs to be expressed on the solid foundation of a committed relationship.
If you disagree with these views, please understand that for us as Christians to think any differently would be to us a violation of God’s will for our lives. If you say we are bigoted because we condemn racism and yet don’t support homosexuality, please understand that from our point of view race is sacred too. A person’s race is given to him by God. We would never condone treating a person differently because of the color of their skin. But, we also believe a person’s sex is given to him by God. Therefore sex is sacred and our position is that sex must be expressed in a manner that is consistent with God’s word. Our positions are univocal. By our way of thinking, your views are equivocal and not based on consistent thinking.
We are not saying that those who disagree with us shouldn’t be free to express their love and their sexuality in the way they see fit (God has granted liberty to all of us). We are just saying don’t call it a marriage if it is not the union of one man and one woman for life. Marriage is a sacred gift of God and should not be used as a way of condoning what the Bible clearly calls sin. That would defile the sanctity of the marital union as God designed it.
My hope in writing this is that Christian thinking might be made clear. But please hear me. We are ALL sinners. We ALL need a savior. Thankfully God has given us a savior who “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Do you know the Jesus who died to save you from your sins?
I was saddened recently at seeing a CNN article by a mom who blogs that she is raising her child without God. Her arguments for doing so, and my responses to those arguments are set forth below.
The mom argues that God is a bad parent and role model because he allows people to inflict harm on others.
If you say there is good, then there must be evil. If you say there is good and evil, then there must be a moral law beyond humanity (otherwise it’s just one person’s opinion against another person’s opinion). If you say there is a moral law beyond humanity, then there must be a moral lawgiver beyond humanity; but that is what you she is trying to deny and not allow.
You could also say that the shadows prove the sunlight. Shadows cannot exist without the sunlight. In fact, the shadows prove that the sunlight exists.
The problem with this argument is that it smuggles in a God centered worldview to argue against God. Its like sitting in God’s lap to slap his face.
The mom argues that God is not logical because he is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God that allows evil to exist.
First, just because God does not intervene to stop evil, doesn’t mean that he caused the evil to happen. God’s objectives with human beings are in eternity and not limited by time and space. How do we know whether God has some good reason for allowing a bad thing to happen? If God wanted to control us, he would have made us robots that obey his will without choice.
Because God loves us, he gave us the freedom to choose him or reject him. Because he gave us free will, then we have the choice to do good or evil. God is responsible for the FACT of evil, but we are responsible for the ACTS of evil.
There is a great two minute video on this topic here: Is God Good?
The mom argues that God is not fair because he answers some prayers with yes, some prayers with no and other prayers with not now. She also argues that God is not fair because he allows some babies to be born with birth defects.
If God was fair, we would all be eternally condemned because we have all sinned and rebelled against God. We live in a fallen world because of our rebellion against God. God saw the pain we were enduring because of our sin and chose to share our pain by sending Jesus to suffer with us. He paid the ultimate price for our sin by being crucified on a Roman cross. We now have the freedom to choose whether we will be saved because of what Jesus did. That is love, but it certainly isn’t fair.
The mom argues that God does not protect the innocent by intervening to protect children from evil acts.
If God intervened in every situation, would that be love? If God stopped every act of human freedom that was evil, would we be truly free? If God wanted to stop all evil, he could have made us robots, but that is not love. See my response to topic 2.
The mom argues that God is not present and we cannot see him.
We are not like God and he is not like us. We are time and body bound. God is eternal and omnipresent. If God was visible and like us so we could understand him, he would not be God.
The mom argues that God does not teach children to be good.
Each person has a conscience. God has written his law on their hearts. That is why people know intuitively that murder is wrong. If they act against their conscience enough, their consciences become seared and hardened to the things of God.
If God intervened in every situation to discipline children so they would better understand right and wrong, would that make us free? See my response to topic 2.
The mom argues that God teaches narcissism because “he has a plan” (whether he has a specific plan for each person is subject to debate, but I’ll grant the reasoning and make my defense).
If a mom loves a child, does that make a child narcissistic? If a mom has a plan for her child does that make the child narcissistic? I hope moms have plans for their children. Wouldn’t good moms want to plan to teach their children right from wrong, send their children to school, help their children succeed in life? Does the expression of a mom’s love make the child narcissistic?
He is God. We are not.
God is not like us. If he was like us, he would not be God. Just because we don’t understand God doesn’t mean that we should raise our children without God. If you raise your child without a God centered worldview, you risk reaping a child with an evil worldview.
People who have questions about God should make a diligent effort to understand Christianity before they react against it. It takes effort to know who God is. God’s choices are not always easy to understand. Unfortunately, too many people rely on flawed human reasoning to deny God without honestly investigating Christian doctrines. Theology is a complex topic that takes significant effort to comprehend.
I hope more Christians will become the salt and light that is needed in a world that is desperately seeking the solution God offers us in Christ Jesus.
The Connecticut, Fundamental Orders (Constitution) of (January 14, 1639), was the first constitution written in America, establishing a pattern which all others followed, including the United States Constitution. It was penned by Roger Ludlow, 1638, after hearing a sermon by Thomas Hooker, the Puritan minister who founded Hartford, Connecticut. So important was this work that Connecticut became known as “The Constitution State.” The committee responsible to frame the orders was charged to make the laws…”as near the law of God as they can be”.
On January 14, 1639, the Connecticut towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor adopted the constitution, which stated in its Preamble:
Forasmuch as it has pleased the Almighty God by the wise disposition of His divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the inhabitants and residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield and now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River Connecticut and the lands thereunto adjoining;
and well knowing when a people are gathered together the Word of God requires, that to meinteine the peace and union of such a people, there should bee an orderly and decent government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of all the people at all seasons as occasion shall require;
do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one public State or Commonwealth, and do, for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to meinteine and presearve the libberty and purity of the Gospell of our Lord Jesus which we now professe, as also the discipline of the churches,
Which, according to the truth of the said Gospell, is now practised amongst us; as allso, in our civill affaires to be guided and governed according to such lawes, rules, orders, and decrees.…
I. It is ordered, sentenced and decreed, that there shall be yearly two General Assemblies … wherein shall be yearly chosen from time to time so many Magistrates and other public Officers as shall be found requiste … which being chosen and sworne according to an Oath recorded for that purpose shall have power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof according to the rule of the Word of God.…
The Oath of the Governor: “I, N.W., being now chosen to be Governor within this jurisdiction, for the year ensuing, and until a new be chosen, do swear by the great and dreadful name of the everliving God, to promote the public good and peace of the same, according to the best of my skill; as also will maintain all lawful priviledges of this Commonwealth; as also that all wholesome laws that are or shall be made by lawful authority here established, be duly executed; and will further the execution of Justice according to the rule of God’s Word; so help me God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In 1639, at Quinipiack (New Haven), Connecticut, the first example of a written constitution, constituting a government and defining its powers, was composed as a distinct organic act. The articles which made up this constitution included:
Article I. That the Scriptures hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties which they are to perform to God and men, as well in families and commonwealths as in matters of the church.
Article II. That as in matters which concern the gathering and ordering of a church, so likewise in all public offices which concern civil order,—as the choice of magistrates and officers, making and repealing laws, dividing allotments of inheritance, and all things of like nature,—they would all be governed by those rules which the Scripture held forth to them.
Article III. That all those who had desired to be received free planters had settled in the plantation with a purpose, resolution, and desire that they might be admitted into church fellowship according to Christ.
Article IV. That all the free planters held themselves bound to establish such civil order as might best conduce to the securing of the purity and peace of the ordinance to themselves, and their posterity according to God.
Following the adoption of the Constitution, Rev. Mr. Davenport solemnly charged the governor of the Colony, quoting from Deuteronomy 1:16–17:
And I charge your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
How far our Constitutional Republic has strayed from its founding.
“Much that we take for granted in a civilized society is based upon the assumption of human sin. Nearly all legislation has grown up because human beings cannot be trusted to settle their own disputes with justice and without self-interest. A promise is not enough; we need a contract. Doors are not enough; we have to lock and bolt them. The payment of fares is not enough; tickets have to be issued, inspected and collected. Law and order are not enough; we need the police to enforce them. All this is due to man’s sin. We cannot trust each other. We need protection against one another. It is a terrible indictment of human nature.” John Stott
Do you struggle with sin? All human beings do. There is only one answer for sin. There is only one way that sinners can be saved. Jesus is the only answer. When Peter and John were arrested for healing a lame begger and preaching about Jesus being resurrected, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)” Jesus himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Men are sinners and hopelessly lost. God is holy and requires those who are his to be holy. Since we can provide no holiness on our own, God sent Jesus to live a holy and blameless life for us. Then God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words the righteousness of Jesus’ perfect life was imputed to those who are being saved and the sin of those who are being saved was imputed to Jesus.
That is why Jesus died on a cruel Roman cross and was buried in a borrowed tomb. The sacrifice of Jesus was a vicarious substitute for us. God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus as shown in the resurrection of Jesus on the third day and his ascension to heaven 40 days later. The life we should have lived, he lived on our behalf. The death we should have died, he died for us. The new life we did not deserve, he gave to us. God has become both the just and the justifier.
Jesus died for you. Will you receive him as your savior? Will you join him in a death like his by being buried in a watery grave and rising to walk in newness of life? You will still struggle with sin, but your sins will be forgiven. Jesus came not to make bad people good, but to make dead people live.
What will you do with Jesus?
–A Simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?
I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.
She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
–Her beauty made me glad.
“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”
“How many? Seven in all,” she said
And wondering looked at me.
“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.
“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.”
“You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!–I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.”
Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”
“You run above, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.”
“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
The little Maid replied,
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
And they are side by side.
“My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.
“And often after sun-set, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.
“The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.
“So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.
“And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side.”
“How many are you, then,” said I,
“If they two are in heaven?”
Quick was the little Maid’s reply,
“O Master! we are seven.”
“But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!”
‘Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”
William Wordsworth – 1798