Jun 13 2012
The Good News About Your Guilt

 

Brant,
    

I listen to your show on a regular basis and have noticed that you tackle a lot of issues and thoughts that most people avoid when discussing Christianity.  I really appreciate your honesty and thought provoking commentary on Jesus.  In saying that I thought you might have a thought on something that I am struggling with.

In the Bible Jesus says "My yoke is easy and my burden is light"(Matthew 11:30) I feel like my walk with God can be really difficult at times.  I know Jesus paid for my sins but I constantly feel guilty about bad decisions I have made in the past as well as the daily struggles I face as a human.  I guess in a way I don't understand how God can constantly extend His grace to someone who messes up so much.  

Thoughts?

Jacob

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Hey Jacob!

GREAT question.  I've certainly felt this way, before.  I think most have.

An odd thing I noticed:  When The Passion of the Christ, the movie, came out, I remember so many people saying, "Why'd Jesus have to put up with ALL of that?  Why was it so bad?  Why did he have to be flogged, and mocked, and spat upon, and beat up, and nailed up in front of everyone, and then speared, and…"

And then, later, when we're considering our sinfulness, we find ourselves asking, "Can God REALLY forgive me?  I've done so much wrong, and over and over, and…"

We should connect those two things. When we consider our sinfulness, consider what God has done for us.  Is there anything left, anything He didn't cover?  Are we so bad that Jesus needs to suffer again?  Did he not go far enough to cover MY rebellion?  Or yours?

No way. I'm not that special, and neither are you. There's not one thing left undone, not one more punishment God has to take on our behalf, to meet the demands of the Law.  Nothing.  

"It is finished," Jesus said.  The Law has been fulfilled, completed. Done. And if that was too subtle, the curtain that divided God from the sinners, was ripped in two.

And this is why, too, Jesus said those needing rest could come to him, and find it.  People are positively beaten down with guilt, beaten down with the demands of religions, including the Christian one, and feeling like they can NEVER measure up.  This is because they can't.  But Jesus can.

He fulfilled the Law, on our behalf.  The work is done now, and it's not about what Jacob does, or Brant does, but about what Jesus already DID.  Price paid, and in full.  There's nothing left.  Some people won't like this.  They're afraid if you believe this, if everyone believes this, everything will turn to chaos. They think once you realize how good God really is, you'll be out of control. They'll say, "Now grace is great, but..."  Grace, BUT...  Beware those people.  There is no "but".  If you've put on Christ, there is no. more. condemnation.  And as we grow in love for God, as we realize we are no longer under law, but led by the Spirit, good stuff flows from us!

His "yoke" is easy, and the burden is light, for those who understand this.  It does not mean that living a life of love will always be easy – forgiving others never is.  It does mean that Jesus' "yoke", His teachings, are not the complex, here's-how-you-keep-the-law-better teachings that so many rabbis offered.  Love the Lord your God with all you have, and love your neighbor.  That sums it all up.  That's how He wants us to live.

And your "righteousness" isn't the issue.  His is.  Final answer.  Weirdly, this is also a blow to those of us who grew up suspecting that we weren't pleasing God UNLESS we felt kinda guilty.  We want it to be about us. But it's not.

Use your guilt to drive you back to Jesus, to drive you back to this truth, that for those in Christ, there is no condemnation.  Use your guilt for that... and then drop it.

The pressure's off.  Soak it in.  Take a deep breath.  You know what?  Letting go of all that guilt, because of the Gospel, the "news that brings joy", can free you up to be even more of a blessing to people.  

And you will be!

Best,

Brant

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May 13 2012
Pride, Pain, and the Price of Gas

This story is simple. It's about me, being an idiot.

I did the following:

1) Bought a new car. First time ever. Still not sure it was a good idea, but we did it. Gets 50 mpg, because it's a diesel, which is interesting because

2) I filled it with regular gas, and that's interesting, becuase

3) That kinda destroys all the fuel lines and stuff, and that means

4) That'll be $7,000, which I don't have, so

5) I rode my bike, carrying extra stuff to work while going uphill and

6) Managed to injure my back, rendering me bedridden for several days, and in excruciating pain, and 

7) I'm an idiot.

And so we come full circle.

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I felt dumb. And guilty. And stupid. And like a failure. And some other stuff. 

As I rode my bike in difficult weather, I thought, "I deserve this." As I lay on the couch, in pain from my bike injury, I thought, "This is what I get for what I did. I'm paying the price for my screwing this up."  I was doing penance, and I deserved it.

...and then Volkswagen called, with the total cost, including towing, tax, everything:  $0.

Nothing. The service guy said the parent company was paying for it. It wasn't a warranty thing. We couldn't make them do it. They just did it, in hopes of winning long-term customers, I guess.

ZERO DOLLARS.

I was happy about this, but here's where it gets weird:  Something in me wasn't elated. There was a part of me - there's STILL a part of me - that wanted me to pay a price for it.  Yes, on one level, this makes no sense. Maybe you've never felt that way. Simultaneously thankful, and... strangely helpless.

I blew it, my wife knew it, and she didn't begrudge it. I blew it, and the repair guys didn't make me feel stupid.  I blew it, and did something harmful, and didn't pay a dime. What I got, for my idiocy, was free towing and fixing. And I got a free detailing of the car, and they changed the oil, too. That's what I got.

I had to figure out why this didn't sit entirely well with me: It turns out, I hadn't been "paying the price" at all. I had no control over this. I'm not being held responsible. Even feeling guilty didn't help. There's nothing about me in this, at all.

And that's the problem. It's not about me, not about Brant Hansen.

At. All.

In sports, there's the guy on deck in the bottom of the 9th. He's struck out four times, already, but he has - as they say, all the time, in sports - "a chance to redeem himself," if he gets to the plate. He can still be the hero, and win the game for his team.  

A chance to "redeem himself."

But I'm the guy who struck out four times, waits on deck for his chance... and doesn't get to the plate. The guy in front of me hits the game-winning homer. We win! We're the champions! He did it, not me. I didn't redeem myself. Now, I'm sitting in the locker room, and I should be celebrating with everyone else. 

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Truth is, we find this very, very hard to accept, but we can't redeem ourselves. Oh, we like to think we can, deep down, so it's still about us. Carrying around guilt? Still about us. Feeling stupid? Still about us. Feeling like a failure? Still about us. Turning our guilt into seemingly productive energy, seemingly "right" things to do? Still about us. Seems so... so... so "righteous", and yet, when we can't take our eyes off ourselves to celebrate the win, it's just plain about us. That's pride.

And pride always hurts, but it's positively deadly when masked by our attempts to pay our own way with our religious activity. 

The game is over. We're in the religious locker room, still trying to redeem ourselves.

And God is popping the cork.