Posts tagged guilt
Posts tagged guilt
Anonymous asked: Hiya, Matt:] I was wonderin’, what’s your opinion on Nate Pfeil’s popular YouTube video “The Fire”? Some people think it’s like, all judgmental and stuff; and other people are saying it is convicting. Whaddya you think? c:
I said: Well I’m going to be honest, I didn’t make it all the way through the video. Regardless of content, I am staunchly morally opposed to 12 minute YouTube videos.
Best I could make out, here was the dude’s point: “Christians shouldn’t sin because sinning is bad, and if other people sin you should be sure to let them know that they are bad”. Now, not taking your sinful nature seriously would certainly lead to an inability to understand the gospel. I just don’t think that happens all that much. People may deny their Sin, or try to ignore it, and in those cases, yelling at them about it will accomplish nothing.
I made it to the point where the guy in the video was talking about the place in the Gospels where Jesus says that many will say to him “Lord, Lord” and he will say “Away from me, I never knew you”. However, Jesus doesn’t say He will say “away from me, you never felt guilty enough about your sin or angry enough about other people’s sin”. In fact, in the beginning of that chapter (Matthew 7) Jesus says point blank “don’t judge others”.
My final analysis of this kind of hell fire and brimstone stuff is that it is basically sound and fury signifying nothing (that’s pretty good, remind me to TM that). It feels awesomely holy to yell about wickedness and whatnot, but it rarely saves anyone or moves anyone forward in their walk. Jesus boils it down to love your neighbor as yourself, and Corinthians says love is patient and kind. So I think we should stick to that.
God has separated your sin from you as far as the east from the west (Ps 103:12). If you go north long enough, you will eventually go south, but you can go east forever without going west. Maybe that’s why the command of peace is to “be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). God has taken your sin so far from you, that in order to get close enough to feel guilt or shame, you have to actively chase after it. Be still, and let Him take it.
Earlier this week my friend Lee Younger gave some amazing advice to a brother struggling with lust, specifically how to stop behaviors. It’s a complicated and dificult topic, so I am going to take another angle on it.
The biggest obstacle between you and freedom is the secret you are keeping. As long as you keep that thing to yourself you can’t really win the fight. You keep that secret because you are afraid. Afraid of what people will think, of what they will say. Deep down, this reflects a fear that God will punish you, not with Hell, but by isolating you and starving you out communally and spiritually. That is of course ridiculous, and when said out loud is easy to identify as such. That’s what secret keeping does, it warps your mind and muffles truth. So the secret is kept out of fear, fear of punishment, which the apostle John says is incompatible with God’s perfect love.
Keeping a secret is also a way to keep your distance, not to risk. This is the other real danger of secrets, in walling of a part of your life and heart from others, you invariably wall it off from God. So it’s just you and the secret, locked in a cycle. The more you hear the secret’s lies that you are weak and terrible and beyond redemption, the more you cement your resolve that no one can know about this. And so the secret grows, until it dominates your mind and your heart. The secret becomes a drain on your spiritual resources. You can try to bargain with it, starve it, injure it, but it won’t work. You have to kill it, brutally and unceremoniously like the opressive enemy that it is.
You have to tell someone. Not anonymously on Tumblr, though that can be a great step, but a real person that really knows you. Don’t get it tattoed on your forehead or anything, but tell someone you trust who loves you. And by doing so you will become something new, you will become a real sinner who has a real savior; someone seeking true fellowship with the body of Christ.
It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be the end of it, but it’s the answer. Jesus’ love is bigger than your secret, and so are you.
Here is what your problem isn’t: your problem isn’t that you don’t know something you are doing is wrong. You know how I know that? Because that is pretty much no one’s problem. So why do so many church people spend so much time telling people that the problem is that they don’t feel guilty enough? My theory is that many people have a very limited supply of useful things to say, but an unlimited love of the sound of their own yapping.
Here is the thing about guilt, guilt always makes a bad situation worse. Guilt isolates you and it lies to you when you are at your most vulnerable. Now that is the very opposite of Christ’s love. Jesus’s love is a freeing love, a unifying love and a love that speaks truth. Guilt was the first symptom of the fall of man. Adam and Eve realized they were naked, and then ran when they heard God (who of course knew they were naked) coming. That’s guilt in a nutshell, and makes you run and hide from a God who knows all your stuff anyway. Guilt pushes you away from the actions and people who can actually help you through something, and replaces it with a cycle of secrets and self-hate.
So we have to learn to manage guilt. Luckily guilt is one of the many things that withers in the light of the truth of who you are in the Lord. Jesus knew all your stuff when He died for you. He clearly says that He loves you no matter what. So why would you run away from the one who loves you and can help? It may be because guilt is all you know, it’s all you’ve been sold as a way to deal with stuff. Well it’s time to get over that.
The reason guilt is enticing, and the reason people default to it instead of dealing (or helping someone else deal) with a problem. is that guilt feels holy. You beat yourself up as a sign that you feel so bad for your sin, isn’t that churchy. Well the problem is, Jesus took your beating. He took all the consequences that your sin warrants, physical, spiritual, and emotional. So what exactly are you accomplishing other than wasting time?
So when you screw up and you feel that guilt piling on, that is the first thing you need to get a handle on. Talk to God, get some scripture on who you are, talk to someone who can remind you. And if that persons only answer boils down to”that was bad and you should feel bad!”, then find someone who isn’t a clown to talk to.
My friend Tom was talking about his struggle with anxiety once and he said, “I just kind of feel like worrying is my part of the deal with God.” Now this is a ridiculous idea, which is why he was saying it. Such ideas can take root if we allow them to remain in secret, but they never fare well when exposed to the light. Maybe you aren’t a worrier, but there is probably a way in which you are falling into this trap. It may be beating yourself up, or trying to be a super shiny happy christian even when you do not feel that way at all. At the base of all these problems is you trying to do your part in your salvation. This is a losing proposition because we are helpless to combat sin on our own. It is also totally unnecessary because Jesus already did it!
In the bravest, sweetest, most complex rescue mission in history; God sent His only Son who took our sin on Himself so that we could have the free gift of salvation. It is the story of the Bible from about page 2 on, through many ages and nations. It culminated with God as a man submitting himself to a brutal physical and spiritual death, and then conquering death itself, for you! Now, what exactly are you bringing to this equation with your worry or guilt? Imagine that conversation with Jesus.
“Hey Jesus, thanks so much for taking for enduring all the punishment for my sin, by you know, being whipped and nailed to wood, even though you are actually the person who I hurt with all of those sins. Oh and the whole sweating blood in the garden and going through with it anyway. Buuut, I spent a lot of time thinking mean things about myself and feeling crappy (even thought you did do that stuff so that to free me from that) so I mean we are kind of 50/50 in this thing right?”
Paul says in Philippians 1:6 “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion”. He began the work, and he’s carrying it to completion, you don’t have any lines in that act of the play. So what is your role? According to Jesus: “love the Lord your God with all you heart and soul and mind and strength”. You can’t really do that too well if you are busy wallowing in stuff that has already been taken care of now can you?