Years ago I read a quote in Brennan Manning’s book Ragamuffin Gospel that I unfortunately identified with. In the midst of an incredible paragraph, Brennan wrote, “I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.”
For the last few days I have done nothing productive or professionally significant. It has been a wonderful days of family, friendship, great food and watching lots of sports. I have been incredibly relaxed – maybe the most relaxed I have felt in years. So what is it this nagging feeling of guilt that keeps creeping up? Beth lovingly reminds me this feeling of guilt is simply that I am a workaholic and need to relax more. Some truth there. I recognize this feeling of guilt as the quality of being conscientious – a characteristic that I value highly. Maybe some truth there, too – but I am biased.
Yet, I think this feeling of false guilt goes deeper then both of those explanations. I think essentially that I and many other evangelical Christians are under a false feeling of guilt all the time. This false guilt doesn’t come as a result of our sin (which would be an appropriate guilt), but a by-product of bad teaching. According to our leaders:
– It’s our fault that our neighbors may go to hell.
– It’s our fault that the Ten Commandments are no longer displayed in every court room.
– It’s our fault that the people of Bornea (or any other place) are not Christian.
– It’s terrible that we didn’t get our quiet time in today
The list could continue for some time, but the point is this – Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt keeps people in the pew. Guilt keeps the offering plates full.
When a few days of celebration and vacation occurs, the feelings of peace and contentment can feel foreign. Yet, these are the types of emotions that God wants to be characteristic of His followers. He created rest, vacation, celebration or any other adjective you can think of that describe a full life. So, whenever those feeling of guilt come, I shake them off. I experience false guilt less and less as I am moving out of a “Pharisee” model of Christianity to a “Jesus” model.
I hope you join me in striving to experience more days of enjoyment in Jesus that is guilt-free.