Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Conviction Without Guilt

"Is it possible that this relationship with God and I is more about an ongoing conversation about life and love and less about do's and don'ts? Maybe I can learn more by allowing myself to experience life as it happens, continuing to dialogue with my God about it, and making life adjustments along the way without feeling condemned for needing to make adjustments in the first place. Could that draw me closer to God more than the pressure of avoiding all sin and the guilt that comes with failure to meet the standard?"

I said that a couple weeks ago in "Getting Over the Fear of Falling". Alot of the time, i'll write things because that happens to be what i'm thinking about at that moment or because it's something that I had been processing through recently. Sometimes it reflects something I truly believe. Sometimes it reflects something i'm exploring.

In this case, I've been living out this approach to repentance over the past two weeks and I'm happy to report that I've discovered in a vivid and amazing way something I always preached about in the past but never experienced before:

Conviction can actually come without Guilt . . . .

Duh! Yeah, I know. I always used to say in Bible studies that conviction comes from God and guilt comes from Satan - yadda, yadda, yadda . . . typical churchese right? Does anyone actually buy that? Well logically, sure, but in practice - it's easier said than done. It's so much easier to attach the guilty feelings we have about having committed our sin to what God must be feeling towards us. I feel guilt and shame so God must be feeling disappointed and ashamed towards me. A Bible teacher may say that the guilt is actually the Devil keeping you down or it's you keeping you down.

Maybe. But perhaps it's also the Church keeping you down.

No really. I mean, when it comes to the subject of sin and repentance, the Church played a far more active role in making sure guilt and shame were attached to what I was feeling so that I would choose to repent. What!? No! Not the Church!

Yeah! Not so blatant - more so in a passive aggressive kind of way - subtle, but it was there.

Things like, "we'll pray for you" or "we pray God would speak to your heart" or "we know that God's will be done" or "this saddens me" or "this breaks my heart" or "the Lord will guide you back to Him".

It's like I'm being handcuffed and ushered off to jail to serve a temporary sentence. They might as well be saying, "we'll be sure to write!" or even "we'll see you when you get out!"

They probably mean well. (<-- that's pretty bad, huh?)

But the thing is - now that I've allowed myself to detach from that kind of manipulative tactics (again, pretty bad -- okay, how about ". . . that kind of approach to supporting a fellow believer"), I've actually been able to live out what I was talking about before - that is, experiencing life as it happens, talking to God about it, making necessary life adjustments as He points them out, and moving on with life.

Being able to live this out - in practice - has been so freeing! There was no need for a big dramatic display of sorrow and regret, sackcloth and ashes, when ever I committed a SIN! I simply listened (as I am in the practice of doing), acknowledged the life adjustments that He pointed out (conviction), I agreed and acknowledged them as well, and made the decision to not do it again.

Can repentance be that simple? Is this blasphemous to say that it's okay to move on with our lives without scourging and crucifying ourselves every single time we sin?

See, the thing is, I actually do believe that Christ died for my sins. I actually do believe that He loves me. So I actually believe that it's okay to interact with Him in that way - especially in the context of sin and repentance.

My self-esteem is not (or I should say, it's no longer) attached to my sin. I don't feel like I need to make a huge production about needing to make a life adjustment just to preserve that self-esteem. My relationship with Christ simply tells me, "just get over it."

To me, this is a stance of humility. I'm not so prideful to think that I'll never make a mistake just because i'm a "good Christian". Rather, I kind of assume that I will continue to screw up. It's not that I'm trying to sin. It's just that I'm not all that surprised when I do. So when my Jesus has me notice a life adjustment that can enable me to continue to live a more abundant life, I'm okay with simply agreeing with Him and moving on.

Conviction without guilt. There's freedom in that!

6 comments:

Samb said...

'My relationship with Christ simply tells me, "just get over it."'

Amen! I've begun to realize that it is me obsessing over my sin that holds me back... not the fact that I made a mistake in the first place.

Oh, and I love this blog; I write this with bloodshot eyes as I absolutely had to read the whole thing through from the beginning.

Who needs sleep anyway?

-Samb

Eric said...

wow! the whole thing from the beginning? thanks for journeying with me, Samb!

Eric

Samb said...

I couldn't resist. Many of your posts so closely mirror my journey that I couldn't stop reading.

Thanks for being unafraid to be you!

-Samb

E said...

Can repentance be that simple?

Which would you prefer - a friend who says "I'm sorry" over and over while continuing to treat you like dirt, or a friend who adjusts his behavior to take your feelings into account?

Not that I'm qualified to speak for God, but it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to guess that he'd most likely prefer the latter just as much as us humans do.

ray k said...

This is the first time reading your blog and I can only say one thing - AMEN! There are two written sources that led me to believe what you state so well in this post. The Gospel of Thomas and The Course in Miracles. The Course substitutes the word 'sin' with 'mistake' -something to be corrected not forgiven.

What strikes me is that 'Christians' today forget that Jesus didn't go around telling people that he would pray for them or that there plight was God's will. He simply reminded them that they all - and he meant ALL - stand completely whole children of God. When we allow ourselves to stand whole in the world, we allow others the same. Things like saying 'God Bless You' and 'I will pray for you' assume that something is missing that must be supplemented which is not Biblical or throughy my discernment Christian.

- Ray

Angel said...

Once more, your inspiring thoughts are *so* universal, that I can't help but apply some of this to my life.

If I had a nickel for everytime someone said they'd pray for me to be healed from my chronic illnesses....and then acted disappointed with me when I wasn't, well, I could buy a better blog! LOL