Jesus Christ: Freedom from Sin and Shame

JESUS CHRIST: FREEDOM FROM SIN AND SHAME

I have read another story with sadness written by a well-intentioned author, who unfortunately shares a lot of the misunderstandings so common in today’s world about what Jesus is all about. As a matter of fact, part of the problem is that one of the greatest sins is the use of the Christian faith to keep people subjugated to arbitrary rules that in the words of Jesus, no man can bear, and laying grievous burdens on people that they themselves would not move with one little finger.

It is an interesting phenomenon that Christians in the United States are leaving their churches but not their faith, because the churches are not meeting their spiritual needs. I’m talking about the ones who continue dedicated, continue in fellowship with other believers, but joining missions that actually put the love of Christ in action for their fellow man, helping them with both their physical needs and sharing the answer to their spiritual yearnings as well.

Jesus said he came not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved!

I’ll try to help disentangle.

It’s true that the Roman Church and a few protestant churches have used the story of Jesus Christ to “a lot of damage because it has been used throughout the centuries by the Church to make people feel unworthy, guilty, and inherently evil.”

In fact, though, Jesus Christ came to free us from guilt completely, totally, and once and for all. That’s the beauty of it.

And yet despite this fact, people often confuse Christ’s story with the atrocities committed supposedly in his name. Despite the fact that Jesus Christ drove the money-changers out of the temple in Jerusalem at the sharp end of a big bad bull whip, over the centuries the church was infiltrated by avaricious charlatans who whipped up penance by the truckloads for their great cathedrals and their luxurious digs, and now many people conflate the two.

I guess it’s not the only instance in history when people are trying to blame you for the charges racked up to your credit sheet by the imposter. During Martin Luther’s time, the priests around him did not even attempt to look like they paid any heed to their own scriptures, only presenting their false credentials to the poor gullible parishioners.

John Knox, as a Roman Catholic priest, never even knew there was such a thing as a “Bible” until he saw it on a list of banned books. But reading it stirred him up against the crimes committed by the hierarchies.

The idea of “original sin” as some kind of hidden gene that all humanity inherits, as is said was described by Augustine, is the result of theologians with too much time on their hands and too much influence from the ancient Greek navel contemplations. Augustine never let go of his admiration of the practice of following endless intellectual labyrinths, what we used to call discussing “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin”.

It is also a distraction from how it really works. In the real world of sin, shame, redemption and the power of the resurrection, children are born totally innocent. Augustine should have paid attention to the verses where Jesus took the tots to his lap, and said “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”

See, little children can do some mischievous things without thinking, but there comes a time during their growing years when they have to begin making choices. Think of it this way: a child is innocent until he is guilty, and then he is guilty. All babies go to heaven without exception. Adults who know better than to whisper that little bit of gossip are a different matter. Great fires are started by the tiniest flames.

In other words, in God’s balance sheet, you pay for your own sins, not someone else’s, not Adam’s.

Now consider this about the Adam story. God gave them a paradise on earth, an easy life, everything they could want or need, and there was only one little itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny tiny rule: Do not eat from that one tree. When they ate from it, they knew it was wrong, and that was the “first sin”. The result was they now knew what it was to do wrong, kind of like Pandora’s box.

From then on, all of us know that there is such a thing as “right and wrong”. The problem with many is they invent intellectual cover for pretending they should not be held accountable for their rights and wrongs, by invoking images of priests in the Middle Ages demanding great sums of money for penance. Sin is not about the burdens placed on gullible followers by big bad brutes and money-changers and Pharisees. It is about what you did yourself.

It’s like the words God spoke about taking care of the widows and orphans in your midst. It’s not about Caesar confiscating the wealth of the realm for the poor, with his own cut in the middle for the tax collectors, it’s about you yourself taking money out of your own pocket and helping the poor yourself. It’s about the Salvation Army giving, not the cover story from Karl Marx imitators.

You know what right and wrong is. You know you have done wrong in your life, no matter what it was. That’s right, “nobody’s perfect”. And inside is your own conviction telling you the universal truth that “whatsoever a man seweth that shall he also reap”. Dirty old clergy don’t matter. But now there is also the knowledge now that we can be free from the burden of that knowledge, completely free!

One can yell all they want about Augustine or whatever else you want, but even those who never heard of Christianity know within themselves that they should not lie for advantage over someone or cheat their neighbor out of his due. How do they know, and how do we know?

But the fact of the matter is, Jesus Christ IS indeed freedom from those sins. The proof of his victory over both your sin, the victory over guilt, and the baggage that comes with it, is in the Resurrection, a fact that is corroborated historically by every objective measure of historical truth that historians themselves apply to other areas of study. Only in this area do they bring their own biases with which to judge it. And yet, history is also full of thousands of skeptics and scholars who set about to disprove it, and being honest researchers, received Christ at the end of their journey.

I am one, after all.

That beautiful hymn, Amazing Grace, is the best showcase example of the power of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the confession of the worst of scum, a slave trader, who took unwilling Africans into slavery across the Atlantic, who came to Christ. When I found this out, it put an even greater electric charge into hearing that song. “Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me”.

It testifies to the power of the gospel of salvation to both save a soul, and make the person into a new creature. John Newton went on to mentor the man who gets the credit more than any other for pushing England into eliminating the abomination of slavery in the British Empire. WIlliam Wilberforce has his rewards in both the earth and heaven.

It is the testimony of the onerous sin of the taking of one’s fellow human being for slavery, something that was prohibited by even the laws of Moses.

And that is the power of Incarnation, and the death and resurrection.

If the explanation in this little note doesn’t clarify the matter for you, don’t worry, sometimes it takes time for the cobwebs of diversions of false doctrines, like Jesus said, “traditions of men”, that “make of none effect the commandments of God”.

So remember, the real story and the power it speaks about is what transformed the early Roman Empire, inspiring them to abandon slavery and infanticide, inspired the establishment of learning centers that became our universities, centers for care for the sick that became hospitals,

It is the life-giving manifestation of God’s love that inspired Saint Francis to fight tenaciously against the Crusades, a rare Christian hero to Muslims today. It inspired Santa Theresa to fill the need of the poorest of the poor, taking in the sick and infirm aged who lay dying in the streets of Mumbai, and inspired her to call to account the “leader of the free world” at the time for the treatment of the helpless babes in the womb.

It is not just a nice story but it is a story that turned the mutineers of the Bounty from murderous envious backstabbers into such a harmonious community on the isolated Pacific Island where they were found in later years.

Once accepted, it is the truth that sets you free, the love that brings harmony to mankind.

–Alan

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: