Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another Name For Guilt: "A Good Start"

We live in a culture obsessed with the exaltation of self. Of course there are many obstacles to this feat, one of which is "guilt". How can we exalt self when we know in our inner being that we are guilty? The realization of this fact is evidenced in our answer to the question: "Would I feel comfortable asking God to give me everything I deserve?". We all inherently know this would be a bad idea.

The fact is, guilt, just as physical pain, is a good thing. They both keep us from harming ourselves; pain-our flesh and guilt-our spirit. But guilt goes much further than protecting our conscious, it takes us much further by taking us to the cross. And it is there, at the cross that we are able to find the most precious gift of all, redemption.

But the cross stands against the exaltation of self. To reconcile this, the self-exalting individual will seek comfort elsewhere. One of the common places of finding vain spiritual comfort is the words in the Bible: "God is love". Assuming our self is the center it is easy to think that God is love because he loves US. But it should also be considered that God would still be love even if he didn't love US. These comforting words can also be deadly without the full counsel of scripture. There is a down-side of "God is love". That down-side, as well as the glorious side, was put on display at the cross. It is here, at this horrible, bloody and cruel display that we can see the reasons that we know in our inner being not to demand of God: "give me all that I deserve", for we are actually looking at what we deserve.

Our guilt reminds us of our wrong actions to others, which according to scripture, are wrong actions against God. While the self-exalting person is willing to pacify his anger at someone else with the assumption that justice will somehow be exacted by God, or some other cosmic force, he seldom brings to the forefront of his thinking the wrong he has done to others deserving of that same justice. But when he does, it is a good starting point, for it might well be that he has stumbled onto the "narrow path", a path that leads to a place where something this world sees as foolishness and ugly, the cross, is seen as liberating, wonderful and glorious by those who understand what it reveals.


5 comments:

craigandheather said...

Our guilt reminds us of our wrong actions to others, which according to scripture, are wrong actions against God.

Guilt.
It's interesting how it can create a smothering sensation which demands some sort of relief. And it's amazing how often we turn the wrong direction in order to alleviate the pain--trying everything from outright denial to entertainment to various self-destructive addictions.

The solution is both horrifying and humbling.

Thanks Dan.

Heather

Dan said...

It kind of brings us to Paul's words: "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" doesn't it? Yet, in the natural, weighted down by guilt, this seems to be the LAST place man is inclined to turn to.

Joe said...

Without awareness of guilt there could be no salvation, as the need for repentance would never materialize.

Susan said...

"While the self-exalting person is willing to pacify his anger at someone else with the assumption that justice will somehow be exacted by God, or some other cosmic force, he seldom brings to the forefront of his thinking the wrong he has done to others deserving of that same justice."

the wrong he has done to others deserving of that same justice. The last half of this statement says it all. How quickly we run from wanting the same justice for EVERYBODY. How we cling, sometimes for dear life, for OUR justice. Thought provoking indeed, Danny!!!!

Dan said...

I have been thinking as of late how ready I am to afford grace to myself that I wouldn't necessarily be so ready to afford to others. I think this is fairly natural for all of us as you point out. My conclusion was to make an extra effort to be more diligent in extending grace to others.