I was a moron in college. Don’t get me wrong, my GPA was really good and I kept my scholarship. I was a also moron in Southern Missouri. It has nothing to do with the geography because my useless knowledge skills shine there.
The problem is that my past is in both places.
I’m not in line to be sainted or anything like that now, but I have a fancy seminary degree and write super religious things on a blog. I even teach Bible stuff and talk about repentance and grace. Heck, I even discuss religious stuff with other religious people. But I’ve done some really dumb stuff and the whole time I’ve belonged to the label “Christian.”
To the people who knew me in college, I must sound like the biggest hypocrite in the world.
To the people back home, I must be affirming every reason why they hate church people and why they refuse to participate. To the people who despise Christians who shame the name of Christ, you can add me to your bad list.
I am not making light of my bad decisions and depraved lifestyle at times in my life. Far from it. I wish I could take it back, and that’s the dig. I’m fixin’ to open the spiritual warfare door, so hang on.
After Jesus spent forty days in the desert, not eating anything and probably ready for a roof over his head, Satan showed up to try and trip him up. Right before Jesus had gone into the desert John the Baptist had baptized him and that’s when God said, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” So the stamp of approval had been given and Jesus was ready to do some Jesus stuff.
So what did Satan go after to try and take Jesus out? Not the tests themselves, but how did he twist the question? He said, “If you are the son of God…” He was trying to get Jesus to prove himself, even after God had made it clear who he was. And that’s the exact spot where I have my disconnect.
If Satan is the accuser then he’s still doing it, and I hear that condemnation sometimes.
If I’m really a Christian then why was I so willing to ignore God in college?
If I’m really a Christian then I should be ashamed of how I’ve represented Jesus back home.
If I’m really a Christian how could I act worse than people who claimed no god at all?
And out of that accusation I start to try and make up for the harm I’ve done. I have to be extra good now to make up for (fill in the blank)! And it twists what should be a joyful and peaceful walk with Jesus into a triathlon of religiosity to prove something to God that he’s already said about me.
When Jesus said it was finished, he meant that the atonement for sin was finished.
For all past and future sin – mine included. When Paul said if I would confess and believe that I would be saved, he didn’t include a revocation clause for sinning too much in a particular gap of time.
So when I try to unburden myself of something God’s already forgiven, I’m taking the bait of the accuser.
Repentance is huge. Conviction over sin is a good thing if it brings someone to the throne of God for confession. I’ve repented, I’ve confessed, and I try to be mindful that repentance is more of a way of life than it is an aisle walk during fall and spring revival meetings.
Believe it or not, I still do stupid stuff. You probably do too. If you said, “No, I don’t,” then saying that was your dumb thing. But those earlier times of my life that I mentioned are probably my most regrettable, and I think that’s probably why those get picked at the most.
If you have something that causes you guilt and shame look at it from the “If you are…” perspective. It doesn’t mean those things aren’t a part of your past, and you may wish you’d done things differently, but don’t try to keep proving something to God that he’s already said.
It can be easier said than done because those spots are vulnerable. But let’s remind each other that God’s not the one who’s saying we have to prove that we really belong to him.
If you know someone who is struggling with guilt and shame, would you email them this post to encourage them?