A little while ago, we went to see the Broadway musical, “Movin’ Out”. This ‘new type of musical’, by Twyla Tharp, is perhaps better described as a ballet, set to the music of Billy Joel. The show introduces us to five young people as they try to get through the turbulent period of the late 1960’s. As the show begins, Eddy is breaking up with Brenda. From there, they continue from the carefree days of post high school summertime, to the point at which the three guys are sent off to fight in Vietnam. During the course of their service, James is killed, and Eddy gets caught up in the ‘easy’ escapes from reality provided by the use of drugs. The second act continues the story, and we see Eddy become a man who goes from bad to worse, as he tries to deal with the aftermath of the war, the loss of his friend James, and a sense of responsibility for James’ death. Eddy finds himself trying harder and harder to escape this reality, with an ever increasing use of drugs. He sinks all the way down, to rock bottom.
I am describing Eddy’s storyline here in detail, because I think that it can be representative of how we treat ourselves, sometimes. NO, I am not suggesting that we have all become drug users and abusers. No, I am not suggesting that we have checked out of reality. What I am saying, is that as God-fearing people, we are often much harder on ourselves, than God would ever be.
As I was considering what to write about first on this site, I realized that this first piece should begin to form an outline of New Christianity. That is not to say that this definition will be complete with this piece, just that it is a start. To begin this outline, I would point out that whatever else it will be about, New Christianity must focus on the central figure of the Christ!
If we can choose one word to describe the Christ, it is Love. The Apostle John reminds us that “...God so loved the world, that He gave us His Son...” (John 3:16) Unfortunately, we ourselves, begin to place self imposed limits on this love, just as Eddy does in the musical. We assume that we couldn’t possibly be good enough, as sinners, to allow His love to flow through to us, unconditionally. These are not limits that God has set, but rather limits that we have set. God doesn’t want us to set these limits, but we seem to do so anyway. Or worse yet, we allow others to set them for us, and obligingly go along with them, thinking that this must be what God wants. As a result, we put ourselves through a far greater “gnashing of teeth” than God would ever want for us to have to go through.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As “Movin’ Out” draws to a close, we see Eddy begin to be able to come to terms with himself. He realizes that his self destructive habits are a dead-end, and that the best way he can honor the memory of James, is to live his life as well as possible. The same is true for us. In the First letter of John, the Apostle reminds us that: “If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Confessing our sins can usually be done fairly easily. This involves admitting our wrong-doing, taking responsibility for our actions, and doing what we can to correct the situation.
Ok, so sometimes this isn’t done quite so easily; but, here’s the good part. Once we have confessed, and taken responsibility for what we have done, THAT’S IT! At that very moment, we are forgiven, and the slate is wiped clean. There are those, who would lead you to believe that you should continue to feel guilty for your sins for the rest of your life; or at least until you go to church on Sunday and participate in the confession and forgiveness ritual. Those who think that this is what God wants: for you to keep feeling guilty, are misguided. As far as God is concerned, once confessed, the sin is forgiven. The slate is wiped clean, and we are invited to accept the full measure of God’s love, and start fresh!
This is the best way that we can honor God’s love for us, and His gift to us of His Son, the Christ. By fully accepting His unconditional love, and by trying to live our lives as well as we possibly can. So the next time your tempted to feel guilty for what you have done, stop! Confess it, accept His forgiveness, and open yourself up to His unconditional love. Then, get off to a fresh start.
Grace and peace to you all,