“Jesus said to Peter, ‘Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ But Peter said vehemently, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all of them said the same.”
~Mark 14:30-31 (NRSV mods).
What a set of reversals takes place here. Peter is bent on dying with his Lord and perhaps that’s his bold magnanimity speaking; of course, we all know that when it came to the crunch, Peter, per all the disciples, was nowhere to be found.
So important is this fact, from the biblical perspective. It sets a low mark for us, that when we also deny Jesus—in any way, for there are many ways to deny God—we know we’re not condemned for it; we’re just simply loved back into the sheepfold at our repentance.
God is the last one wanting us swathed with guilt. God knows that guilt serves mostly the devil’s purposes. Guilt and shame can only ever serve God’s purposes in bringing us to a point of repentance—to a change of heart, mind and way. And that can happen instantaneously.
Lasting Guilt and Shame – the Devil’s Ploys
Beyond our turning back to God there is no godly purpose in guilt or shame.
Yet, our minds find them awkwardly familiar; our hearts, the stinging scourge of poor decisions of past.
Healing is the business of God and injury is the business of God’s enemy—to our permanent disablement, if possible. Satan loves to see servants of God nullified, yet he has no power to keep us there beyond ourselves—and our choice for God.
It should be said that God forgives every repented-of transgression against him. (Any transgression against another was really a transgression against God in the first place.)
This forgiveness is without condition—no matter how bad our deeds were.
What holds us back is not so much the person who still has something against us—at least within our own minds—but what has become for us looped thought patterns.
These repetitive and constant reflections over our experience are what hold us back.
To allow God to heal us is a great mystery. Sometimes it happens completely miraculously. Most times, however, God works gently in the background, restoring our confidence by the day, giving us the resolve to go on into the retraining of the mind, past the guilt and shame that dogs us.
A Time to Not Reject But Accept
God’s not really bothered at us rejecting him in as much as we cannot hurt God; we can only hurt ourselves by rejecting him. God knew always that it would be our default way to reject him.
What pains God most, however, is we reject the way to our own healing.
There is no good reason for this; the rejection of the antidote. It’s cutting off our noses despite our faces. The poison is sin leading to guilt and shame, causing spiritual death; the antidote is the forgiveness of sins leading to peace and spiritual life.
Faith is the portion implicit of accepting that God can heal us. And day by day, year by year, as we venture this way of faith, we expect it. We’re on God’s timeline now—his vessels for the portents of transformation. And in our acceptance we find that this healing is a lifetime love affair with God.
God never protects better than through the healing of our eternal souls—for us, it’s an ongoing need and reality (if we’ll accept it).
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.