Remember the story in the Imitation, how the Christ on the crucifix suddenly spoke to the monk who was so anxious about his salvation and said “If you knew that all was well, what would you, today, do, or stop doing?”
When you have found the answer, do it or stop doing it. You see, one must always get back to the practical and definite. What the devil loves is that vague cloud of unspecified guilt feeling or unspecified virtue by which he lures us into despair or presumption. “Details, please?” is the answer. ~ C.S. Lewis
I’ve read many thoughtful blogs tonight. It’s been interesting to find the topic of guilt frequently referenced on both what could be considered secular blogs (in the sense that they aren’t specifically ‘religious’ by intent) and Christian blogs (in that some aspect of Christianity is the primary theme).
There’s secular guilt over everything from diets and gas mileage to world hunger and damage to the ozone layer. There’s abundant religious guilt. The Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur, the ‘day of atonement’, is possibly the most angst-ridden holiday on the Jewish calendar. Atonement is the main theme in the month-long Islamic celebration Ramadan. Hindus and Buddhists worry about their negative karma.
The really famous guilt, of course, is Catholic guilt. I’m not Catholic, so I can only speak to Protestant guilt. If it’s any consolation to my dear Catholic friends, I’ve yet to meet a Catholic who can out-guilt an evangelical or a fundamentalist.
I’m baffled as to why you rarely hear about Protestant guilt, unless it’s because we believe it’s a good and necessary thing? I was a professional guilt-gatherer most of my life. I know the damage such a collection can cause.
Legalism leads to guilt. Grace leads to gratitude. I no longer believe that there’s a place for guilt in the life of a follower of Jesus. I believe in conviction and repentance and remorse, but not guilt.
Do it or stop doing it. Repent, make amends and move on. Only the enemy holds up the rear-view mirror to keep us focused on past mistakes and sins. I’m confident there’s nothing he likes better than to make lame with guilt the leg that grace has already healed.