Teaching Medical Terminology for several years forever changed the way I look at words. Not only do I see the entire word, I see it in parts. Greek or Latin word roots, along with various suffixes and prefixes, compose medical terms. The word root tells us the part of the body we’re talking about, and the prefixes and suffixes tell us what we want to say about that body part.

For example, “gastr” is the word root for “stomach, and “itis,” is a suffix that means “inflammation.” So, gastritis means inflammation of the stomach…and you know what an upset or inflamed stomach feels like.

At — One — Ment

From www.Christianity.com we read: “… atonement refers to the needed reconciliation between sinful humankind and the holy God. This reconciliation is possible through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as expressed in Romans 3:25, Romans 5:11, and Romans 5:19. Atonement is the Bible’s central message.”

Jesus paid the price for our sins and made reparation for us when we couldn’t.  But when I dissected the word “atonement,” I saw “at-one-ment,” and I think that goes way beyond  reparations.

Because sin separates us from God, Christ’s atonement for us makes us “at one” with Him. We not only escape the flames, we’re  again held in a close relationship with the Father. Imagine being “at one” with the Creator, His Son, and Holy Spirit! That’s far more intimate than just being off the hook for our misdeeds. “I suspect “at-one-ment” adds a depth to our relationship with God that can change our lives.

Eternal Wheel of Retribution

I was raised to believe I needed to do penance for my sins before God would forgive me, as if Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t sufficient without something more on my part. It made me feel like a rat, racing forever on an eternal wheel of retribution… until I read verses 11-12 in Psalm 103.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (NIV Life Application Study Bible)


Psalm 5:16-17  “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. “(ibid)

Two Scenarios

Scene 1

I had the chance to donate to a ministry that feeds the poor and homeless…but didn’t. Now I feel guilty and believe I must “do something” to make up for my sin of omission, and the less I like it, the more painful, the better.  So, I grudgingly give up my Saturday morning  to serve at a soup kitchen. Now I dread Saturday.

Scene 2

Same sin, but besides feeling guilty, I feel something else. When I consider the people I could have helped, I’m sorry I didn’t, and thinking about their situation makes me feel worse. I offer a contrite (not just guilty) heart to God. Then something wonderful happens. Being “at one” with Him again, I WANT to reach out and help because I share His heart for those in need. Now, I work in the same soup kitchen, but with joy, and I look forward to Saturday.

I think that’s the difference between “making up for” (atonement) and being “at one” with God. I’m doing what I’m doing because I’ve been forgiven and  am closer to Him, and NOT to be forgiven.

Goodbye wheel.