By: Khrystyne Kilgore
“No GUILT in life, no FEAR in death. This is the power of Christ in me.”
I live with an enormous amount of guilt in this life and that makes me feel even more guilty because that means the power of Christ is not working in me, nor do I live into His peace. Recently my husband came to me while I was wallowing in the depths of my guilt and spoke truth into my life. Lyndol Loyd’s sermon of “What Keeps You Up At Night: When You Can’t Stand Yourself”, spoke volumes to my life as well. I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night; if my anxiety or fear is not keeping me up, it’s my guilt. I didn’t realize that’s what it was until my husband told me his observations and also when I read Lyndol’s sermon.
God has blessed my life in extraordinary ways. There is NOTHING I did to earn so many blessings. Instead of thanking God for His infinite blessings, I treat it like curses—something I need to be “good enough to keep”—and I’m NEVER good enough, yet I still have things in abundance. I feel guilty for not being good enough to receive the rich blessings God continues to pour out. I also feel guilty for not living into the resurrection of Jesus. I feel I have a burden that death and sin are too great and overpowering. As I carry this burden, it is hard for me to know what my part is to play in the great “groanings” of this world. The injustices, broken relationships, natural disasters, etc., seem too great and I get overwhelmed and frustrated at myself for not saving the world. I feel a lot like Atlas in Greek mythology. Atlas led a battle of Titans against Zeus. Zeus punished Atlas by forcing him to hold up the heavens. Often I feel I should shoulder the weight of the world as punishment for my guilt and lack of faith. Not only is that silly, it is also idolatry; placing myself in God’s rightful place, to care for and love the world, to carry the huge burden.
Surely I’m not alone in this struggle. Friends, how do we live as wide-awake people, as resurrection people, as people free of guilt? First, we have to come to a place of correct thinking. We cannot save the world. No one person can attempt even a fraction of eliminating famine, caring for the broken, campaigning for better housing, the list goes on and on and on. This is to be the work of the whole Church with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. All of us need to be nourished and encouraged by the central worshipping life of the Church. What does that look like? Let me offer six ways of nourishing and encouraging one another, spurring one another on to good works for the Kingdom of God, and living into the resurrection.
Baptism is the membership into the family of God; a real dying to the old creation and a real rising into the new. Where heaven and earth interlock, new creation and the resurrected life appears within the midst of the old.
2. Lord’s Supper/Communion
For a moment we become the disciples sitting around the table of the Last Supper, but that’s only half the story. We’re also celebrating the arrival of God’s future in our present world. The future of the anticipation of the banquet, the marriage feast of the Lamb mentioned in Revelation, when heaven and earth are made new.
The extraordinary, unique, intimate relationship that Jesus Himself had enjoyed with the Father is now open to all His followers through prayer. Jesus shared in the suffering of the world so that He might be the true Intercessor for the world. In Romans 8:26-27 Paul writes of the Holy Spirit who calls deep within us, calls to the Father of the pain of the church, the world, and our hearts. The Father answers back with love and we are conformed to the image of the Messiah. The deeper we grow in faith, the less God changes our circumstances; instead He changes our character and aligns us with His purpose and perfect will. We persist in prayer because we are being perfected and becoming more like Christ. We are also called to be intercessors for each other, to participate in one another’s joys and sorrows.
The Old and New Testament proclaim the story of creation and renewed creation, the old covenant and the new covenant. It is not just a book informing the hearers about this narrative; it invites them into it, wraps them within it, assures them of their membership in it, and equips them for their tasks in pursuit of the goal of the relationship with God and the coming of His Kingdom.
Holiness is about transformation. Transformation happens within the family of God through the work of the Holy Spirit. We need to, again and again, gather with other believers to retune our instruments and practice; making sure what we believe and are teaching is in line with God’s heart and will. Then we must go out and play our instruments, demonstrate the great love of our Creator, among the clanging and screeching of the world.
If you read nothing else, read this portion! Love is not our duty but our destiny! Love is at the very heart of our hope. People who truly hope in the resurrection are enabled to love in new ways. This leads into forgiveness. Forgiveness is God’s way of life. If you close your heart to forgive others, you are also closing your heart to the forgiveness of God. God, in His tender love, longs to set us free from the prison we have stumbled into; the loveless prison where we refuse both the offer and the demand of forgiveness. He is gentle! His only aim is to release us from our prison, to set us free to be the people He made us to be. Then, for us to offer the same gentle gift of freedom of forgiveness to those around us. God does not want us to feel guilty, to allow sin to imprison us. He wants us to repent, live into His forgiveness, and forgive others.