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.
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!