What intrigues me about my religion – one that is largely based upon freedom and abundant life – is how much time I spend feeling guilty and ashamed about myself. I do not blame this on Christianity – though I’m sure someone could make a very strong argument for why I ought to. Yet I truly feel that the heart of Christianity is really about freedom from repression, suppression, and oppression. Or, to make it more Pauline, “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I used to think that there was simply no way to ever overcome sin without somehow feeling ashamed of who I was, and what I did. But I have come to see that there are a couple of problems with that line of thinking.
First of all, it’s predicated upon me somehow delivering myself from sin. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a more naive thought. Second, and more apropos to my current struggle, it leaves me perpetually imprisoned in a violent, bloody cycle of shame – beleaguered by my sense of self-non-worth and utter inability to think, feel, and be right.
The last 24 hours has been another painful, internal struggle, and therefore another indication for me that there is need for some emancipation. As I strolled along the harbor last night for some patented “me and God time”, I was forced to come face to face with myself – as messy and ugly as I am. There I found peace . . . there I found Jesus.
Admittedly, I am afraid. Because to let go of being ashamed of myself is to accept myself as I am . . . yet I am sinful. I don’t really know how all of this is supposed to work. All I know is that I feel 50 pounds lighter, and I’m forced to rely on Jesus to make the changes that I’ve been trying so hard to make for such a long time. And then I wonder . . .what if He doesn’t make those changes? What if what I always thought should change, was never supposed to change in the first place? Scary stuff. Seriously.
I got my copy of Brian’s new book last night and started reading it. Already I’m feeling uncomfortable and stretched by it, and it’s only Chapter 2! I’m hoping to see him sometime in the next couple of weeks, and perhaps we’ll discuss all the other scary stuff this brings up