So many Christ-followers live with shame and regret. Embracing the vast love and forgiveness of God, along with His power to change us simply by reaching out and grabbing the brass ring, seems far too abstract.
Instead, they are emotionally captive to the belief that they are teetering on the edge of salvation. Walled in with steel bars of, “I must do something to receive it,” holds them captive – prisoners in our own minds.
That was me. Shame and regret followed the people of the cult, but we sure wouldn’t admit it. Instead of admitting brokenness, we claimed the promises of God and become more and more self-righteous. We were too busy speaking freedom, to actually live it.
Fundamental to the core in every aspect of “obedience,” I was more mental, than fun. I followed “the Word,” and dared anyone to challenge me otherwise. I had scriptures to back up everything I did, and I could argue the theological pants off of most, and leave them naked and running for cover. It was bad and abusive theology, surrounded by too much fear to listen to the viewpoints of others. If we admitted one of our doctrines could be wrong, then everything could be a myriad of fables and our “Truth” house of cards would come tumbling down.
Of course, it was ridiculous to even consider we could be wrong.
The iron bars of what I believed to be “sound doctrine” kept from knowing the freedom that Jesus bought and paid for. I thought I was keeping the “world” out, but instead I was locked in a prison of spiritual abuse.
I was “saved” and never questioned it, “purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ,” and there was nothing I could do to add to it.
Yet, I lived my life filled with rules upon rules, and the pain of knowing I never got a one day, one hour, one minute of my “walk with Jesus” right. “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” was not happening (Matt. 5:48). I was disgusted with myself, and my constant sin and failures. Where was the “new creation” the bibles spoke about.
A well-hidden self-hatred was becoming a perfectly orchestrated symphony in the cycle of read, pray, fail. Quite plainly, life sucked.
The beautiful song Amazing Grace, sardonically was lived out more like this,
“Amazing grace was a sweet sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was free but now I’m bound, my doctrine captured me.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, but hearts are soon deceived, that grace began to disappear the longer I believed.
The Lord has promised good to me, but sin, my doubts secured, I can’t believe His grace for me, my failures He’ll endure.
My chains were gone, I was set free, but works soon came and ransomed me. And like a flood, my life swept in, and kept me drowning in my sin.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine. If I keep struggling to do right, perhaps I’ll make Him mine. I hope I make Him mine.” (For the record, I love the song Amazing Grace, by John Newton, and the story behind it.The adaptations and liberties were taken by me to prove a point.)
I see it everywhere I go – people going down front to get right with God – again, and again, and again, and again. Or telling me, “…but you don’t know what I’ve done; if you knew what I’ve done…”
If salvation by grace and not by works, why the need to repeat the event over, and over, and over, again, based upon our human failures
Even if our theological views hold to eternal security, the shame and regret of being anything less than perfect in our daily “walk,” still prevails. It just isn’t publicly revealed in a weekly jaunt to the alter – making it easier to wear our masks of perfection while the cloak of self-doubt hangs draped across the back of our chairs.
I worked so hard to make sure I pleased God. I didn’t really believe I was teetering on the edge of salvation, because I knew the Word, claimed the promises, and walked in obedience. I just knew I never pleased Him. Ever.
If I could just stop yelling at my kids; be a more submissive wife; stay in my bible more; pray more; serve others more; stop yelling at my kids; forgive more, quite wanting my own way; stop yelling at my kids. (Apparently the long skirts, isolationist life, separation from worldly TV and music, and never using a doctor wasn’t enough.)
Oh, and stop yelling at my kids.
Always busy doing the right things, there was hardly any time to be still before God, and listen to the voice of Jesus beckoning me to be loved, and love, from a place of grace.
The pressure to “conform” and have my mind “renewed” was insurmountable and unattainable. Who I was created to be, and who I was as an individual, no longer mattered in the fundamental teachings of conformity, and obedience. There is no such thing as individuals, just unity in the body of Christ.
I knew the Word of God far more than I knew God; I knew the Word of God far more than I knew myself.
At least I thought I knew the Word of God – but you can’t have one without the other. You can’t know God without first knowing the Love of Christ. Jesus is His word. Jesus loves us. He proved that.
He reveals to us what life can really be like when it is lived from a place of reckless passionate, crazy, laughing, and uncontrollable, surrender, in perfect Love.
No bars, no chains, no “have to’s”… Just a whole big heart full of “want to’s.”
It’s a life of laughing without guilt, fighting without condemnation, repenting without shame, praying with hope, and living with Love.
It’s messy but marvelous, broken but beautiful, crushing but life giving, dark but light, losing, gaining, moving, standing, quiet, shouting, perfect, damaged – life to the fullest, life.
It is knowing that God’s love for us is,
Immeasurable. Unfathomable. Indescribable. Unstoppable.
It never leaves us teetering on the edge of Salvation. Ever.