It’s true that Christ took away our sins for all times unlike the goat in Leviticus that took away the sins of Israel for a year. But do we think that Christ took our sins to the cross so we can participate in the scapegoating process? Instead of blaming others, can’t we take on their sins–not in the way that Christ did but in a way that lessons, instead of compounding, the sin burden of others? How?
By confessing our sins to each other. Sin weighs us down, particularly when we think our brothers and sisters are near perfect. Confessing our sins to each other reminds us that we are all sinners and frees us to take on the sins of each other. It’s the antithesis of scapegoating.
It’s also a way of calling forth over and over again one of the essential tenets of the Christian faith: Christ died for our sins. It’s a way of lifting each other up and bearing each other’s burdens. It’s a way of taking responsibility for what we have done and who we are. Scapegoating does none of this.
The Pharisees were champions at scapegoating. They were keen to stone a woman guilty of adultery (John 8:2-11), all the while taking advantage of widows (Mark 12:40) and persecuting the righteous. (Matthew 23:27-39).
Early Christians were taught something different. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Jesus ended the blame game, so why should we try to revive it? We should heed Paul’s teaching in I Thessalonians 5:9-11: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or sleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”