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a serving of guilt, revisited

Posted by Miss Knotty on November 20, 2005

Okay so I read guilt over again and I’ve sat on the entry for a week because I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to blog it or not; but there it is. But I’ve been thinking about it all week and the sermon-parting-shot for today was really the confirming thing for me.

Are some churches just all about laying on the guilt-trips?

And my answer so far has been: yes.

And so I was thinking about this all week, trying to decide if I should post my entry or just let it be, but I wanted to put this out there. I am seriously conflicted about whether I should stay at my church or go elsewhere. I love my little church family, but I don’t love the church. Its tactic seems to be obeisance through guilt-manipulation, and, in the immortal words of Austin Powers, “That’s not my bag, baby.”

But the pastor today (a guest pastor/missionary-type guy) said something that really perked my ears up:

(His context was related to being a participant in a particular denomination that’s fairly prevalent here in Location, USA) (paraphrase) We’re legalistic and we like it that way. And if we can make you feel guilty about something, all the better. This isn’t a direct quote, but it stuck with me. All day.

My mom said something yesterday that stuck with me too, and I’ve been chewing on it:

She said, “I spent years feeling guilty: guilty that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, nice enough, successful enough. I’m not [being made to feel] guilty anymore. You’re a good person, and you have a good heart. Don’t let [them] manipulate you into feeling bad about yourself all the time.”

And she’s right. I mean, I want to do right in my heart, and I want to love Jesus. I face up to the fact that I’m a human. I can’t be Jesus. That’s the simple truth of it. He is God. He was sinless, and He died for my sins, knowing I was going to come to earth and sin and mess things up a bit. Even knowing this, He came anyway, and He died anyway. But God loves me. God. Loves. me. Just as I am. Now that’s grace, right there. I knew, I JUST KNEW that I was unlovable. That there is not a person, (besides my parents and people related to me by blood who are simply required to love me) creature, or inanimate object that could love me. But God does. The Creator Himself loves me.

I used to think that I didn’t deserve love, that I was just a sorry mistake, or a rough draft, maybe a doodle in the margin on the draft of the doctoral thesis of the universe, but I don’t think that anymore. God put someone on this earth to love me, and that’s Jesus. He loved me so much that He died for me. Pretty heavy stuff. But He didn’t die for me to allow myself to be made to feel guilty about that. He died for me so that I could be free. Free to love Him and free to love His children. Galatians has it all there: The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. There’s no guilt there. Guilt is not a fruit of the spirit. Making other people feel guilty is not a fruit of the spirit either. God doesn’t want His children to feel guilty. He doesn’t want his children sitting in judgment of His other children because they tithe their net instead of their gross. He doesn’t want them boasting of their volunteer time, or guilt-tripping His other children into volunteerism. If one of the tenets of a church is ‘faith expressing itself in love’, the love needs to actually be love. Faith doesn’t boast. Faith doesn’t guilt-trip, and Faith certainly doesn’t judge and remind the judged that it was found lacking. That’s not what God is about!

What does obedience to Him entail? The answers are in His Word. I really believe that. So it’s time for me now to just take it to the Word. I think I’ve been allowing myself to be led into the idea that obedience to God is what my church says obedience to God is, rather than what I believe and understand it to be. I love God and I want to serve Him. But I don’t really think that I can do that at my church right now. The way I feel about everything (in terms of ambivalence to joining and baptism), and the frustration and mild hostility I feel about the guilt-tripping…. I just… I dunno, disagree.

Praise God that He’s brought me to a place where I can feel free about disagreeing and think for myself. Now on to the next thing: Is it right that I stay with my friends at church or is it right that I should go and find a new church? Is the Holy Spirit directing me to stay or go? It’ll come to me though, in its time.

My friend J-Pimpsta (name changed to protect the……. … .. nevermind. Name changed.) has recommended a book to me about religion v. spirituality, and I’m looking forward to reading it. I think it’ll help me get some practical insight into the questions I’ve been running into lately.

More and more I’m thinking that I need to just go straight to God by way of scripture and prayer, and to move away from the church for a time, and see if I get some clarity on this issue, and really figure out what is going on in my head. I know the Enemy will get great pleasure out of finding out that I am conflicted in my heart. But that conflict only lies in the religion I’ve come to, not to my faith in Jesus Christ. I love Jesus.

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One Response to “a serving of guilt, revisited”

  1. Rebecca said

    I’m so glad you posted on this. I think alot of people have the same thoughts but never do anything about them, never decide for themselves what they believe. Sounds like God is really speaking to your heart and that’s wonderful!! Stay in the Word and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowlege Him and He will direct your paths.” The Word does say, “Seek and you will find……”. He will be faithful to answer you Regina and you’ll know in your spirit exactly what He wants you to do and there will be peace that passes all understanding about the decision!! (okay, stepping down from the podium now!) Whatcha knittin’ girl? lol. And thanks for the comments on my blog! I’m really excited about getting to know other Christian knitters out in blogland.

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