fine lines

When were the saints at the height of their joy,
but when they were suffering for their God and Saviour?

St. Teresa of Avila,
In a letter to the Reverend Father Hohn de Jesu Roca,
Carmelite, at Pastrana


(Palmer Chapel Methodist Church / Cataloochee National / Cataloochee Valley in the
Smokey Mountains)

Something that I’ve long observed as a Christian is that we members
of the faithful flock often walk a fine line with our faith and following.

We do so because we have been programed by words like sin, guilt, suffering,
penance, punishment—words that have throughout time
become sentiments hammered into our heads—worn around our necks like a
an every growing weighted chain.
Sentiments that we must experience if we are to be true to our faith.
Simply put, the burden is part and parcel of life as a Christian.

Such teachings have been allowed to morph while getting tangled
and entwined in our mindset.
They become like a choking vine wrapped around a tender young sapling.
Eventually that choking vine outpaces and engulfs the poor sapling.

We are very much like that tender sapling…
striving to grow ever upward, seeking our place in the sun—or in our case
that is more like in and with the Son…but…sadly…
many of our Christian denominations have instilled in us a need to carry a
deep suffocating burden if we expect to be true followers of Christ…

And yes, we should note that that burden is in essence
our sinful nature and that of our sins…
of which I dare not wish to dismiss, diminish or make light of…
for as a sinner, I know all too well the deep and lasting effects sin
can have on our spiritual well being–especially
sin that is neither repented nor confessed let alone curtailed.

The fine line is found somewhere between redemption and that of the sin itself.

We should also note that not only do we bear the weight of our sins,
it’s as if we are expected to continue carrying the associated guilt and heaviness
of those sins and wrong doings despite our having confessed and having handed
them over to our Redeemer.
We are not allowed, nor do we allow ourselves, to truly feel the release,
the joy and the freedom that comes with redemption.

We are washed clean yet many of our denominations and religious teachings
have lead us to think, or better yet believe,
that we must constantly wear our hair shirts as a reminder
that we are never truly free.

And perhaps in many ways, we are not free.

We are tethered to this world and that of our own sinful nature.
Yet I honestly believe that Jesus wants to lighten our burdens
when we confess to him, yet in doing so, many of us, me included,
just can’t seem to shake the heaviness or associated guilt…guilt
the world and our ancient enemy would have us bear and claim despite
Jesus having claimed them for us in his death and resurrection.

It seems that I also have observed that we have been taught, again over time,
that we are to actually suffer for our faith.
And the question of this world then nags… if we are not heavy ladened and or suffering,
are we truly following as we should??

There are those who would say no.

And so we wrestle on…wrestling with our various doctrines as well as
ourselves.

Personally, I think Jesus has the better solution.
A solution I must embrace…I must listen for his call…
or perhaps that is more like I am yearning for his call…

Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest
(Matthew 11:28)

But go and learn what this means:
‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Matthew 9:13

15 comments on “fine lines

  1. bcparkison says:

    We may be fixing to find out our religions have failed us.

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    Your words have always inspired me, Julie. As I grow older, I see the benefit of our guilt as a reminder of how much we need our Savior, Jesus. I agree, however, that when He came, He not only died for our sins, but also to relieve us from our guilt. He carried that burden on His own back, because of His wondrous love for us. He rose from death to give us the hope of eternal life with Him. It’s such simple truth and I feel somehow, we miss the point in our churches. We make it so complicated.

  3. Harold says:

    Missed you

  4. hatrack4 says:

    I found part of your words convicting. I found part of your message similar to what I have written in the past. And yes, I cling to the promises of Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven, and we should let them go, since God no longer sees them. But the world sees them and crams them down our throat, even in a church setting. But it won’t be easy, even when the church seems against us at times.

  5. Salvageable says:

    Sometimes a part of the church (not the whole Church; not the true Church) is guilty of putting burdens on Christians and robbing them of the freedom they have in Christ. Sometimes we project our problems onto the Church and blame it instead of examining ourselves for the root of the problem. Sometimes we need “the dark night of the soul” to grow as Christians. And sometimes we curse the darkness while holding our eyes tightly shut against the Light. It’s hard to sort through all these “sometimes” to know which applies in any given time and place. Where the true Church is found–where the Word of God is correctly taught and preached, and where power and strength is found through Holy Baptism and Holy Communion–God’s people are equipped for life and service in this sin-polluted world and are put in touch with the Savior and Redeemer who rescues us and who promises us life in a reconciled and repaired world.
    God bless you and keep you in his love. J.

  6. ColorStorm says:

    Hi Julie/
    Nice to hear that in spite of your assaults from many fronts- you speak highly of your Anchor. Well done.

    I though about a piece of scrappy looking rock, that may say: ‘why are you hurting me with that hammer and chisel? Why the daily pain?’

    The Pieta that’s why. So while it seems impossible to know ‘why’ in the midst of such calamities- there is a beauty yet to be realized- and a testimony to the ages. Suffering perfects us in ways otherwise impossible.

    All the best-

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