Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Condemnation, Take a Hike!


“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
                                                                                                           -Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Human beings have such a great capacity to see the unique gifts and goodness in others.  We have the ability to celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and we encourage each other to dream of things that could be and to push past our fears in order to realize those dreams.  On the flip side, we can also be extremely critical of one another, hurting each other with harsh words and with even the slightest of offenses.  We are a mixture of good and bad, but we are beautiful in what I like to refer to as our flawed perfection.  I admit it took me a long time to come to this conclusion about humanity.  I have witnessed the most magnificent selflessness in people, and I’ve seen and been through things that created the worst of scars.  We all have.  The thing is, though, that some of the worst scars I’ve dealt with are the ones I have inflicted upon myself.  As the saying goes, “We are our own worst critic.”

One of the biggest issues I have always dealt with is guilt.  I used to place myself on a pedestal (as did others, in my opinion), and if I messed up, even in the smallest way, I felt so guilty for it. I hate pedestals. They are for statues that are fake versions of those who couldn’t stand on them for long without falling anyway.  Pedestals should be left to chiseled, unfeeling rock, not living beings.

I’m not quite sure where my guilt always stemmed from.  Maybe, it’s because I used to feel inferior if I didn’t do things perfectly.  I say ‘used to’ because I finally came to a point in my life where I became too exhausted and irritated to attempt perfection anymore.  Perfection is for God alone.  We slowly chip away at ourselves when we try to be everything to everyone all at once.  I have cried to God plenty of times because I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be, a version that was way too hyped up in my own head. There have been too many times when I’ve felt broken down by my own expectations of what I thought I should be.  Plastered on smiles can only last so long.  Eventually, they fall away revealing the pain of false perfection underneath.

I know I’m not alone.  There are so many people who feel like I do, ones who try to live up to the unrealistic standards of others, or worse, the crazy expectations they’ve placed on their own shoulders.  That kind of weight slowly presses down though.  It’s backbreaking, and it’s dangerous.  I say it’s dangerous because if one misinterprets the weight as something they can handle completely on their own, then they very likely could become a victim of pride.  I used to be this way.  I thought I could do things on my own without relying on anyone else.  I sure didn’t want to bother God with my problems.  I figured He had enough to do already without having to deal with my issues too. 

I never doubted God could do what He wanted to.  I just didn’t know Him well enough to understand what His love meant when it pertained to me personally.  I couldn’t understand all of what Jesus’s sacrifice and victory meant for humanity. His love surpassed anything I ever knew, and to this day I am still constantly amazed by it. Romans 8:1 tells us, “…there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…,” but, though I’ve been a Christian for years, I never truly understood the meaning of this verse until more recently.

About a month ago, I was sitting in bed at around 3 a.m. surfing through channels on t.v. trying to find anything to watch besides another infomercial about dancing my way to weight loss or how to get rid of joint pain, and I stopped on Joyce Meyer’s show.  She was talking about God’s love and what it means concerning mankind.  She said, “A lot of people try to get God to love them by trying to behave perfectly.  But, God IS love, and all He wants us to do is act as a receptacle of His love, and to simply take in what’s being freely offered” (1 John 4:16). Wow!

Jesus commands us to love God and to love each other (Mark 12:29-31).  I believe that part of loving God is to allow Him to love us as well.  We can never truly trust Him unless we understand how much He loves us.  Trust in His Word doesn’t come from nodding our heads in church at verses we know we should agree with.  It comes from having faith that God is Who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.  I’ve heard different teachers of God’s Word relay this message in various ways numerous times. Though it may be difficult for us to grasp that there is no condemnation for us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, it doesn’t make it any less true, because even when we don’t understand right away what “no condemnation” means, it doesn’t mean we never will understand what it means.  Each person learns different lessons in their own time and in diverse ways.  To take away from God’s perfect timing for those lessons is to take away a part of what we are supposed to learn in the first place.

It will take this lifetime and beyond to learn all of what God wants us to know, and I know we will never stop learning, but the sooner we are able to develop even a small amount of faith in Him to keep His promises, the sooner we will experience a greater freedom in our lives.  There is no need to keep reliving mistakes we make.  Just confess them and move on. I admit that, though I know this truth, I still struggle with guilt occasionally.  People don’t change overnight after all.  But, I will keep reminding myself over and over until it fully sinks in that I should accept my own flawed perfection, and that’s all I need to do.  God will take care of the rest. And though I don’t have absolutely perfect trust in God yet, that doesn’t mean I can’t take a step forward in faith each day and take God’s extended hand.

Thank you to for help with the Biblical verses. J

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