Pondering today on guilt and the cross. Guilt – a feeling that you have done something wrong or bad or let someone down, or the state of having broken a law.
I was one of those kids that wanted to please. If a teacher got on to me in school, I would cry. I wanted to preform well and I wanted to be accepted. Guilt and shame were my constant companions, little voices constantly whispering in my ear that I was not good enough.
These pesky little voices have been around from the beginning. They whispered in Adam and Eve’s ears, “Hide from God, you are naked and you should be ashamed”. They whispered in the Children of Israel’s ears, “You better sacrifice so you can be accepted by God”. They whispered in the Pharisee’s ears, “Kill this Jesus, his teachings will make you powerless over the people.”
Because of those lying little voices, I gladly, desperately and eagerly accepted the idea that Jesus died on the cross for my “sins”, my ” missing the mark”, my ” mess ups”. I wanted Him to take my guilt and shame away. BUT…I then felt even more guilty. I had put an innocent man to death to make me feel better. I must work hard and devote my life to paying him back for this “gift”. Talk about a religious guilt trip that lasted 40+ years!
Today, I don’t hear those destructive little voices anymore. Oh, every now and then I see them yelling from a distance to try and get my attention, but their efforts fail. I don’t see the cross, or the death of Jesus, or guilt like I used to. I don’t believe the story I used to believe.
The story that says…God created humans. Humans disobeyed God. Humans should be ashamed. God punished humans. God must separate Himself from shameful Humans. God sent humans to hell. God needed a sacrifice to overlook humans’ filthy humanness. God needed to kill Himself to save humans from a place He created. Humans are indebted to God. God saves some humans. God sends others to hell. The end.
As I read the story now, I see things I never saw before. I notice details, words, actions that I glossed over to make the story fit my church’s teachings. And now, every time I read it, I see even more. I see a love story!
Here is the story I read now.
God created humans in His image. God loved humans and said His creation was VERY GOOD. God enjoyed human’s company. Human’s made a mistake. God went looking for humans and covered humans’ shame. God protected humans from themselves. Humans felt separated from God because of their guilt. God accepted humans’ pointless sacrifices so humans could feel better. God was continually trying to teach humans that they were wrong about Him and they were wrong about themselves. God sent Jesus to set the record straight. God still loves and has always loved humans! God never needed sacrifices to love humans. God IS love. Humans needed sacrifices to feel worthy of God’s love. God sacrificed Himself to show human’s the depth of His love. Humans are free from the voices of guilt and shame. Humans realize that they have never been nor will ever be separated from God. Humans love God. Humans love all humans.
Guilt and the Cross look very different to me now and for that, I am so thankful. I look different to me now. You look different to me now. Love looks different to me now.
Happy Sunday my friends! Oh, and I almost forgot the end of the story…
“And they all lived happily ever after!”