More God. Less Guilt.

Day 3 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Do I Really Want Fairness?

Perhaps the best definition for law is "fairness." But we need more than fairness from God if we want to be with him in a perfect place forever as imperfect people. We also need more than fairness from him if we want to be free of guilt while living on earth. In fact, our whole world needs more than fairness from God... and each other. 

Christ didn't come to bring fairness. He came to offer grace. In fact, it is often our pursuit of fairness that gets in the way of our pursuit of God–just as it did for the Pharisees two thousand years ago.

Heaven is perfect. If God were fair, we'd need to be perfect for an entire lifetime to share in Heaven. Seeking Heaven through our own personal perfection is simply illogical. Seeking inner peace on earth from God through fairness and law as an imperfect person only produces misery... or perhaps, at best, apathy. 

Stop Pursuing Fairness

We need to stop pursuing fairness if we want to pursue God. We need to welcome grace instead.

For a long time, I tried as a Christian to win God's favor first with my actions, then with my sorrow over the imperfections in my actions, and then with new actions which were also ultimately imperfect, and then with a deeper and deeper sorrow. But what I discovered is that this is the path to guilt, not the path to God! It's the path to spiritual hell, not the path to spiritual health and Heaven. It's also not a Biblical path.  

Our actions, good or bad, are not powerful enough to change God. We are simply not more powerful than him. Our sorrow over our own sins also isn't enough to change God. We simply exert no control over our Creator–remember we are the creation, not him. But the Good News revealed in Jesus Christ is that God is love, unchanging love which we call grace, so we don't need to change God–he's already changed the standard of judgement for us through Christ (1 John 4:8). 

It is because of this that St. Augustine famously wrote: "Grace is not given because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them." 

God Loved Us First

You see God loved us first (1 John 4:19). He loved us before we stopped sinning (Romans 5:8). Grace is offered to us before we welcome it. Grace is even offered to us while we are rejecting it! The question isn't: Does God want a relationship with me as a sinner? The question is: Am I willing to welcome a relationship with God as a sinner? He has already said "yes" to us on the cross. He is hoping, waiting, and longing for us to say "yes" to him as sinners. 

To that end, Mother Teresa once wrote to her fellow sisters: "Only open your heart to be loved by God as you are and He will do the rest." He will. That's how grace works. Grace doesn't wait for you to deserve it to work. Grace works once you recognize your need for it and welcome it as someone who could never truly deserve it. And where grace works, guilt has no more room to do its destructive work anymore.

Reflect

Guilt is the result of pursuing holiness to convince God to love us instead of pursuing holiness because we are convinced that he already does. Because of this we need to ask ourselves:

Am I pursuing holiness to try to change God's decision about me or because God has already revealed his decision on the cross to love me as a sinner? 

Am I pursuing holiness in an effort to save myself or in response to my Savior who already has done on the cross all that is necessary to save me?

Is holiness in my life the pursuit of forgiveness or the fruit of having received it?