March 8 Reflections

Years ago, I was at a rehearsal dinner for a wedding that I was officiating. During the dinner the host served a very small amount of champagne to the guests. As I think back it wasn’t much more than a thimble full. It was given so a toast could be made. I took the little glass of champagne and join in the toast. That was all the alcohol that was served. The rest of the evening went on in a delightful way. The next week a parishioner from the church stormed into my office emotional guns blazing. His finger pointing at me began to berate me for having that drink at the rehearsal dinner. He truly thought that it was the end of Western Civilization and Christianity because I took a small sip of champagne. It was all my fault if the church died. After telling him I didn’t think the wagging finger was appropriate, he calmed down a little, but never accepting my story and stormed out trying to make me feel guilty.
False guilt is everywhere. The Christian church specializes in it; in fact, has a P.H.D. in it. We have it mastered. We make up little rules and then seek to make people feel guilty for not following them. I can think of many that I have come across in the ministry and my own personal life. False guilt is when you are made to feel guilty for something that is not morally wrong, nor against what God teaches in his Word. In the situation above if I had gotten drunk, got in my car and drove home and while doing that hit three pedestrians which resulted in them dying…yes, there is moral guilt. That is sin. That is real guilt. True guilt is real. This week we think together about the truth that grace is greater than guilt, true and false guilt. It is the real guilt in our lives that led Jesus to a real death on the cross where he really took all our real guilt upon himself that we could really be forgiven.  Grace is greater than false guilt because it helps us see the truth of this made up guilt. Grace is greater than true guilt because Jesus gives his life on the cross for this guilt. The innocent one dies for the guilty.
The words spoken to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you” are words spoken to us as we humbly confess our sins to Abba. Abba is not a condemning God ready to squash you at every instance possible, rather he is loving God ready to pour out grace that covers all your guilt. We are going to think about this on Sunday as we look at a woman’s story of grace. Some passages to read: John 8:1-11; Romans 8:1-4; John 3:16-21; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.

Grace upon Grace,
Pastor Verlyn