God, I am sorry that I always take your grace for granted. I so frequently find myself living under cheap grace...grace with no cost. Sometimes I just live as though your grace was free to even you. I live like you did not pay a cost for the grace I get for free. I live like its free. It may be free for me to accept but it is only there for me to accept because you paid a phenomenal price for it. It is easy to focus on the grace being free to me, but when that's all I pay attention to, I begin to live my life under the banner of cheap grace and ride the coat tails of grace. Even if I don't say it aloud or even consciously think it, I live my life as if to say, 'God will forgive me; why not.....?" For that I apologize. I have taken your mercy and loving grace for granted. I need you! I need your grace.
Bonhoeffer said, "Guilt is an idol." I have been thinking today about the role of guilt in our faith...or at least the role we have given guilt in our faith. I find myself essentially worshipping and lifting up guilt in my life quite a bit. Bonhoeffer has a fantastic grasp on the role we often give to guilt and shame. Self-rejection and hatred are far too present in the Christian faith. It was never intended to be this way. We too often take our own self-hatred and project it onto God, and that does not match up. We too often assume that God feels the same way about us that we fee about ourselves. This is impossible, of course, unless we are able to love ourselves with relentlessly tender and accepting love.
We have to destroy the idol of guilt and begin to accept ourselves as we really are. We are all wounded people, and need to learn to accept that. We, instead, either lacerate ourselves with guilt and shame, or we hide our wounds with pretty faces and admirable manufactured presentations of ourselves. We hide behind those masks and never allow ourselves to be known as we are. Sadly, I often hide for so long behind some masks that I believe they are real; I forget my real self.
Guilt remains an idol because my unwillingness to reveal myself as I am, wounds and all, is an unwillingness to accept myself. That unwillingness to accept myself is my unwillingness to accept that God truly is a loving God. I may accept it in my head while there remains a great chasm between my head and my heart.
How willing am I to be wounded; to accept that I am wounded? Without being immobilized by guilt?
How long will I worship the idol of guilt?
"The hand of God does not hold the man nearer, clasped in its grip, but sets him free, and its creative power becomes the longing love of the Creator for the creature." - Bonhoeffer This Bonhoeffer quote is a great image for my heart to see today. I am reminded that God is not a vindictive dictator manipulating my every move so that I remain near to him and his model for my life. That would not be love! If, in his phenomenal power, God manipulated my every move that I had no option but to love him back, I would not have loved him anyway. But as a phenomenal Creator, he has given me life and asked that I be close to him and yet allowing me to live that life as I choose.
I am reminded of one of many fears I had of becoming a father. If I raise a child with great love, I cannot imagine the pain of a time when my own daughter lives her own life without a desire to be near me and the love I have given her. I imagine I would stay back, wanting her to go and become a woman; for her to grow into a strong woman; all along waiting back for her to desire time, connection, and nearness to me, her father.
This image has served me well today in my connection with the heart of God.
My Father has given me life to live, but how close have I desired to be? He waits for me to be near while he also enjoys seeing me go and grow and mature. I long to be near my Abba who has given me life and brought me this far into the person I am.
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