On Monday, I wrote a post about how we need to say, “Goodbye to guilt and shame.” You can read that by clicking here. To quickly summarize, I believe that we, as Christians, focus too much on beating ourselves up over our mistakes. Jesus came and died to free you of guilt and shame and to invite you into a perpetual state of forgiveness. That is offered to all who believe in him.
After thinking about what I had written, I began to wonder if maybe I unintentionally did the opposite of what I had hoped. My worry is that, by telling you should be beyond guilt and shame, you would then feel guilt and shame about feeling guilt and shame. Hopefully that sentence made sense. I would agree that I made it sound quite easy to give up on the self-loathing and self-condemning. Take it from me, it’s not easy. In fact, I am nowhere close to reaching that goal in my life. It is going to have to be an everyday, constant goal towards which we should strive.
To be honest, I highly doubt that any of us will reach the destination of totally accepting the freedom and forgiveness that was bought for us in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. It goes against the mindset that we have been taught all of our lives. As I alluded to in Monday’s post, the idea of God being the judge who is ready to dish out punishment the moment we screw up is seared into our psyche. So please don’t think that this is a switch that can be easily flipped. It will take all of our lives before we can give ourselves fully over to the love that we cannot fully understand.
That being said, here’s my advice on how to work towards that goal: keep reminding yourself until you believe it. John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church and whose theology is the foundation of several other denominations, had a circumstance from his life that I believe that can help us out. All this information comes from Adam Hamilton’s book Revival. Wesley was having a faith crisis. In fact, he was ready to give up preaching until he could figure everything out. He went and sought a man named Peter Boehler. Upon telling Boehler of his plans to give up preaching, Bohler changed his mind and told him to, “Preach faith till you have it, and then, because you have it, you will preach it.” Essentially, he told Wesley to fake it until he makes it.
This is my advice for you today. None of us will ever be able to escape those self-damning thoughts that creep into our mind every time we fail to live up to the calling of Christ. The best thing that you can do is remind yourself that you are loved and forgiven. Tell yourself that Christ came and died for you. Tell yourself that you don’t have time to dwell on the mistakes because you are too busy being consumed by God’s grace. Whenever you mind tells you that you are guilty and deserve condemnation, sing the line from the old hymn, “But I know whom I have believed/ And am persuaded that he is able/ To keep that which I have committed/ Unto him against that day.” The one whom you have believed in and committed to follow will always forgive you, love you, and comfort you. We just need to get over ourselves and accept that.