Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Has Guilt, Grace, Gratitude Become Guilt, Guilt, Guilt?

Many are aware that the historic way of breaking down the Heidelberg Catechism, even the Christian life itself, can be summarized with the three-fold description Guilt, Grace, Gratitude.  But for some reason today, it seems like I talk to a lot of people who do not experience this three-fold description, but rather, their experience of the Christian life seems to be Guilt, Guilt, Guilt.  Understanding our guilt before God is certainly necessary and a good thing, but it's not everything.  In fact, guilt is supposed to take us to the cross where we find the objective work of Christ, and then subjectively embrace it by faith so that by grace, we can rejoice in salvation and walk in the newness of life--guilt leads to grace and grace leads to gratitude.

With this purpose for guilt, and with such amazing grace, why is it that so many Christians feel so guilty all the time?

At his blog today, Kevin DeYoung asks this question and provides four basic reasons why he thinks so many Christians feel so guilty:
  1. We don’t fully embrace the good news of the gospel.
  2. Christians tend to motivate each other by guilt rather than grace.
  3. Most of our low-level guilt falls under the ambiguous category of “not doing enough.”
  4. When we are truly guilty of sin it is imperative we repent and receive God’s mercy.
DeYoung believes that this constant guilt is dangerous because it can harden one's conscience and even lead a person to ignore his conscience.  This constant feeling of guilt, which can sear the conscience, can lead people to ignore actual sin from which they need to repent, and hence, miss out on the salve of the gospel, which is what they need.

DeYoung believes that grace is the answer:
 . . . the best preaching ought to make sincere Christians see more of Christ and experience more of his grace.  Deeper grace will produce better gratitude, which means less guilt. And that’s a good thing all the way around.
Yes it is, but why limit the prescription just to preaching?  Why not offer all the means of grace that Christ affords his church?  Yes, preaching is important, necessary and foundational, but seeing in communion what is spoken in a sermon is also important, necessary and beneficial.

Do you seem to feel guilty all the time?  The bread that came down from heaven makes himself available for you to feed upon him, and hence, be invigorated by the heavenly realities in him.  Maybe you're not eating enough.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Bro. I really enjoyed our brief visit last week, and will pray for specific grace from Christ for you in the pastoral duties he has called you to.