This is a picture, so to speak, of the present age. During this period, gifts and sacrifices are offered which have no power to perfect the conscience of those who come to worship.
I wonder how much more we could live and enjoy an entire day if we could go through it guilt-free.
You know, we are at our most creative when, well…we are bored. If you’ve got nothing to do, you’ve got the ability to come up with something creative to do. You need space to be creative. Not just time, but space within yourself. Think Maslow’s heiarchy here. If your basic needs are not met, it’s tough to think creatively. Most likely, you’re spending your energy thinking about where your next meal is going to come from, where you’re going to stay if it rains, how to protect yourself from predators.
One of our basic spiritual needs is a clear conscience. To be able to function well and creatively and to enjoy yourself, you need to be relatively guilt-free. That’s why they made “guilt-free cookies”–so that you could actually enjoy them. You don’t have to think about all the calories you will need to burn later in chastisement of yourself for your careless splurging.
If we’re always occupied with thoughts of not being enough, not measuring up, how much we have to do, it’s extremely difficult to enjoy your day. It’s extremely difficult to enjoy God. Someone observed that most of us go to bed saying to ourselves, “I didn’t do enough today,” and we wake up saying, “I didn’t get enough sleep last nite.”
How imprisoning. So much energy is going to thoughts of not being or not doing enough, that we are not free to just be, to just enjoy God, ourselves, and one another. This is why the simple life is so appealing–less to think about.
I think this is one of the greatest things Christ brought us–freedom from a guilty conscience–and yet, very few seem to embrace this most wonderful of gifts. It is there for the embracing for each one of us. It’s just a choice away.
Imagine going one whole day without thinking at all about guilt over something or about not doing enough. Think of how much space, energy, brain power, and time it would free up! We’re all different, so for some it will free up more than others. When you think about it, the energy we expend on this guilt and not-enough stuff does not actually accomplish anything. We do not get all the stuff done in a day because we stressed about it. We got it done because we did it. Why not choose to do the same stuff guilt-free? Paradoxically, we usually get more done when operating this way. But you can’t operate guilt-free in order to get more done. Then it doesn’t work so well.
I mean, did Jesus clear us or not? We Western Christians love guilt, don’t we? We’ve been using it and shame for centuries. I think sometimes we can even focus too much on being forgiven. Forgiven from all our terribleness. Yes we are, but then what? Can we stop for two seconds and move on to living the life that results from that forgiveness? If you’re feeling guilty all the time or that you’re just not enough, then you’re obsessed with yourself and not with God if you think about it.
Bask in the reality that you are indeed enough today. Revel in a clear conscience. Live today satisfied with what is, with whatever you get done or don’t get done. Think of the space cleared up by accepting the clear conscience that has been granted to you.
If this sounds too difficult, some may find it helpful to “trick” yourself into it. Think of watching a movie or recorded sporting event that you’ve already seen before and therefore know the outcome. You can watch it stress-free and really enjoy it because you know how it ends. The hero saves the day. Your team wins. Imagine today that you already know the outcome, that God will totally take care of all that is needed at the end of the day, all those things you don’t get to. Imagine you “win” in the end no matter what. All you have to do is participate, and embrace whatever is before you right now, guilt-free, pressure-free.
Live free. Be creative.