Some of the words in the Book of Common Prayer (which used to be the main service book used in the Church of England) present a very sad view of the human condition. “There is no health in us” and we are “miserable offenders” we are told at Evensong. We are to “bewail our manifold sins and wickedness” according to the Communion Service.
Our modern services are maybe less gloomy, but some of the negativity remains.
Now I am not denying that sin (defined as the condition or actions in which we separate ourselves from God) is a problem. In fact it is the problem that Jesus addresses as he brings us back to God. But I do sometimes wonder whether the way we talk about sin can have the effect of making people feel bad about themselves, especially if they have a tendency towards low self-esteem or depression.
Jesus actually tells stories which show that God is taking the initiative to reach out to us and to accept us as we are. The prodigal son’s father runs up the road to meet his son as he sees him in the distance, and kisses him. The shepherd goes out looking until he finds the lost sheep and then joyfully brings it home on his shoulders and has a party. I would say that a famous hymn gets it exactly right: “Just as I am thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve...”
The Christian truth is that God loves us unconditionally. His is the love that “wilt not let us go”, to quote another hymn. We need to remind ourselves about this at all times, but especially when we are fearful or lonely, or have lost our job, or are ill, or have suffered a bereavement. The Gospel is the GOOD NEWS, not the GLUM NEWS.