Blogging Towards Sunday, September 2nd
The Question of Guilt
GUILT. It’s an ugly word. A feeling that often overwhelms us. Those that critic Christianity from Friedrich Nietzsche to modern atheist writer Christopher Hitchens, lift up the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth as something that causes guilt based on unrealistic and inhuman morality. In Hebrew the word for guilt and that for sin are used interchangeably. In Leviticus 5 & 7 we hear of the proscribed sacrifices to make restitution for sin or guilt, whether it be consciously or unconsciously committed. The Law seems to provide a way to remove guilt, to make the one who offers the sacrifice clear, to empower them to experience a before and an after, to continue with the certitude of being no longer guilty. The twist is that it can happen again, no matter how many rams of the flock are sacrifices on an altar.
In our American, and evangelical or puritan flavored culture, we often are enslaved by guilt. It’s not just Catholics, but all of us, who feel guilty for the past, for sins of omission, for any and everything. Yet Jesus spoke out against guilt. The passages from Isaiah and Galatians talk about freedom, a freedom bought with a price, but a freedom for once and for all. In his letter of pastoral advice to the church in ancient Galatia (modern day Turkey & Armenia) Paul asserts that sin and guilt have lost. When God sees us God sees Christ alive, not our sin domineering. So why do we continue to often feel guilty and act out of guilt rather than out of a sense of freedom and gratitude?
· How do you struggle, or are you paralyzed by feelings of guilt?
· How do these scriptures portray the life that Jesus invites us and empowers us to lead?
· How do you hear the Spirit of God inviting you – or us as a church – to act, speak or be through these passages?