I was at a get-together the other night and someone asked if anyone else had the experience of feeling guilty and not being able to tell if it was true guilt or if it came from the years of the superficial guilt over everything we were indoctrinated with by the weak religion of our youths. It was one of those moments where my chest tightened with excitement and my eyes widened. It’s a struggle I’ve had for years.
If you don’t know what I mean by this, I’ll try to explain. As a Christian, there are certain other Christians who—well-meaning or not—ground the idea of a petty and petulant god into your skulls. Things like dancing, certain (well, most) forms of entertainment, fermented beverages and not being a doormat wife made him quite huffy. So, having spent your formative years with that idea of God can make you neurotic about what’s truly a negative waste of time and what’s harmless fun.
I’ve come to question a great many rules in the last several years. I even went back and looked at the moral Law in the Old Testament, only to find that it was largely rules about treating neighbors respectfully, taking care of the poor and not cheating people in business—so, basically, love. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a demand for perfectlove, but, nonetheless, love. Not the burdensome majoring on the miniscule that we’re taught is true spirituality.
I’m of the belief that asking the question, “Why?” can be a spiritual discipline. If you have some long-standing rule in your life, or if someone is attempting to put another log on the pile, simply ask yourself, “Why?” If you can’t come up with a suitable biblical reason, drop it.
It’s not up to you, anyway. There’s only one way to get to God and to gain his favor—the death and resurrection of his only Son, Jesus. The other way is perfect perfection, and none of us got that. The beautiful thing about grace is that what you can’t do, God finishes. We reach out in our piddly love and God extends it. We try to watch with him just one hour and we can’t even stay awake. But he does. And, because of that, we’re good. Jesus finished it on that cross and gave us hope for a future three days later.
In Between Noon & Three, Robert Capon writes it better than I can when he writes, “…there is therefore now no condemnation for two reasons: you are dead now; and God, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, has been dead all along. The blame game was over before it started. It really was. All Jesus did was announce that truth and tell you it would make you free. It was admittedly a dangerous thing to do. You are a menace. Be he did it; and therefore, menace or not, here you stand: uncondemned, forever, now. What are you going to do with your freedom?”