Thursday, March 26, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

When guilt and condemnation surge and seek to convince you that you have to redouble your efforts to be a better Christian, how do you respond?

70 comments:

Susan said...

I'd have to say I don't ever feel the need to redouble my efforts to be a better Christian.

I also have to say it took a long time to get to this place!

I think I finally got there when I got too tired to do it. It was only then I realized I didn't need to.

Greg said...

Susan,
Thanks. Good points. And why don't you need to?

Micha said...

Hi

I try to fulfill those demands and and often fail. But still I try and I hope that maybe something comes out of it. Maybe not what I actually wanted to, but hopefully at least a weak reflection of perfection.

Micha said...

"guilt and condemnation"-you use negative terms. Maybe I missed your point.

Susan said...

Well, Greg, Jesus said, It is finished. I need to rest in his finished work and not worry about redoubling my efforts.

Greg said...

Micha,
Yes, so often we assume that guilt and condemnation are things that we need to combat and try harder not to have. But I wonder what the result of this heroic effort really is? You mention at least a weak reflection of perfectionism. Do you think that's a satisfactory direction?

Greg said...

Susan,
Good. Like it, but what does it mean? What happens to the 'I' who needs to rest?

Patricia said...

...by remembering where condemnation comes from. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1.

The Holy spirit convicts us of our sins, but it is the enemy that brings condemnation and its associated lies.

Susan said...

Greg, I was thinking of Romans 8:4 especially in The Message:

And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Micha said...

Let me try again to explain. When I compare my life to what Scriptrue is saying I fail. For example in Jeremia 5:
"The Lord says, “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem. Look around. Think about what you see. Search through the market places. See if you can find one honest person who tries to be truthful. If you can, I will forgive this city."
And I ask myself: Would I have been a good and merciful person in those days? Would God have pardoned Jersualem because of me?
Or when I look at others life, like the life of Mother Teresa, I realize that I am not measuring up.
That creates a big tension, but I remember someone saying that we Christians shouldnt avoid tensions.
That isnt satisfactory in the moments when you realize that you dont measure up but it is satisfactory when you have done something afterwards. Maybe it isnt satisfactory for yourself but maybe it is lifechanging. Maybe it is also selfdestroying. Could be. I dont know.

Greg said...

Patricia,
Thanks. True enough and extremely important to remember, but who do you think the enemy might be?

Patricia said...

The enemy is Satan - the father of lies. The lie that I must work to be a better Christian was put in my thoughts many years ago - it is renewing my mind with the truth that will prepare me to battle with those lies when they re-emerge in the years to come. If I don't know the Truth, then I can easily take on that condemnation and conclude that I am not good enough and need to re-double my own efforts at sanctification.

Greg said...

Susan,
I'm still wondering about this. Good passage to mention. Does to embrace what the Spirit is doing in us mean 'I' still have to do it?

Greg said...

Micha,
Yes, all true, but what's the solution?

Greg said...

Patricia,
Helpful, and I agree. As the lies re-emerge where do you turn?

Micha said...

living in this tension and changing my life

John said...

Great discussion here!

Greg, good question. Honestly, like Susan, I used to struggle with this a lot. Guilt and condemnation would creep in, I would get very down, and the "try harder" mentality would take over, which only took me to the point of agnosticism and very deep depression.

When these thoughts come back up (which thankfully they do A LOT less often now), I deal with them in a couple of different ways. First, I remind myself of grace. I remind myself that being a Christ follower is not a duty or works based process, but one of faith. Honestly, sometimes when these thoughts come up I'll go do something that in the past I would've been broken up about (like smoking a cigarette, or something like that). I don't remember who said that they do this as well, but it's essentially a way to tell the Evil One "You have no power over my thoughts, to tell me these lies about my relationship with God."

Patricia said...

Because I am forgetful and because I am still on that road of sanctification, I don't always recognize the lies, and I think that is why the disciplines of prayer and study are so important to maintain. Whether it is Holy Spirit conviction or the enemy's condemnation, I need to run to the cross - remember my sins were nailed there - and in humility ask God to examine my heart and my motives for any "efforts" or "works". I'm not going to get it perfect. It's a growing - a maturing process, don't you think?

It just so happens that I am presently dedicated to a writing task that I have put off more than once because it is rife with opportunities for me to carry guilt and condemnation. I think that is why this topic particularly pushes my button today and I am so acutely aware of the need of remembering the truth of the Gospel.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Is being a Christian enough? Salvation, i.e. becoming a Christian, surely does NOT come through works. But what about works? Are they not essential? At least for being a BETTER Christian?

I want to be a BETTER Christian. I try hard and still feel guilty - maybe not condemned, but definitely not good - very often.

Have the question and the answers been about the same topic?

Greg said...

Micha,
Indeed, living in tension and changing life, but where do you go with that guilt and condemnation when it arises?

Greg said...

John,
Thanks for the insights. What does it mean to be a Christ follower in faith in this particular case?

Greg said...

Patricia,
Yes, this is getting us moving in an important direction: towards the cross, which seems to be able to take place in a moment and through a ongoing process.

Trust your writing project will be filled with sanctification opportunities.

Greg said...

Lukas and Celine,
Thanks. Yes, I believe "good works" always have a place in Scripture and the Christian life, but these are not "works of the law." If not, "works of the law" what are the "works"?

How can one be a better Christian?

Micha said...

It is the old problem - the tension between faith and works. Can we solve it? Probably not. People over the millenia struggled with it. We probably all believe the same, but put a different emphasize, because the emphasize we experienced in the past was the other opposite and we try to find a balance.
Those of us who always experienced legalism, find comfort in grace and those who experienced laziness pardoned by grace emphasize transformation.
I hope that is the reason for many "conflicts" in Christianity - it could explain a lot of disunity.

Greg said...

Micha,
True, that old problem is there, but I still wonder if and how it might be made livable? Turning to ourselves, redoubling our efforts, and working harder may be turning in the wrong direction?

Patricia said...

Greg, interestingly enough, my writing project related blog contains this wonderful quote from you in the header which I think relates to this discussion: "Others come first - through washing feet, laying down lives, loving as Jesus has loved us. This extends to all we say and do as we live in this wild, wonderful, and broken world as broken people."

Micha said: Those of us who always experienced legalism, find comfort in grace and those who experienced laziness pardoned by grace emphasize transformation.

I have found that to be so true - in myself as well as others.

Micha said...

where do I go with that guilt and condemnation when it arises?I am redeemed. That is the thing I was told. And I sort of believe it. The problem I am struggling with are the tears, the darkness, the hunger and the screams still raping our world. Cant I see them?
They are floating all around. And what am I doing?
This condems me, this makes me feel guilty. What am I doing against it? I am saved. So what?
Or maybe it was a mixture, a both/and. Maybe I condemned myself to the point where I wasnt sure of salvation any more BECAUSE I am not engaging the misery in this world enough. Anyway, thanks for taking so much time to respond to every comment.

Greg said...

Patricia,
I believe in living that quote and say thanks for highlighting it here and on your blog.

My inclination in this discussion is to move away from cheap grace or desparate legalism, but my thoughts are primarily focused on that person who is weighted down with guilt for not measuring up. I have a thought about what to respond, but I'm interested in what you mentioned earlier about the cross. Can you say a bit more?

Greg said...

Micha,
Do you think that all those tears and screams, combined with the misery of the world, have been addressed by God?

To engage the woes of the world and work hard to diminsh them is important, but why? And how do I deal with the guilt of not being able to do enough?

John said...

Great question, Greg. To live under grace, not under duty, is to know that we are free to fail. That's how I would put it. I have the freedom to fail and to not beat myself up over my failures. It's like being a child of a parent that you know loves and accepts you even though you may screw up. You have freedom to take big chances and to fail because they are still there for you, not waiting to bring the hammer down and cut you off from their "love". I guess that's how I view being a child of God.

And Lukas, I agree with Greg that we are not talking about "works of the law" here. Works matter in the sense that they are a reflection of Christ in us, changing us, but they have no bearing on our standing before God. And, I would dare say, when the lack of works makes you feel guilty and condemned, you may have a wrong idea of what God requires of us.

Greg said...

John,
Again, this seems to be moving in an important direction. Can you state more clearly what you think God does require of us when the guilt and condemnation from a lack of works surges?

John said...

What God REQUIRES of us? Interesting question, because from a works perspective, God does not require anything of us. He does the changing and the works naturally follow.

I think what is helpful to do, when guilt and condemnation from a LACK of works emerges, is to remind ourselves that we are redeemed, we are sons and daughters of a loving and merciful God, and to continue being faithful to doing our part in sanctification, but to understand and remember (once again, in life changing and life giving ways) that it is a process and that we are changing and becoming more Christlike, and that one day we will be made holy and pure.

I also find it helpful to look to the past and see how God has changed me, and to remember that even though I may struggle in ways, there are ways that I struggled in the past that God has redeemed me from. This gives me hope (which I think is a part of this discussion that has not been brought into play yet) that God will do a work in these current struggles in my life.

Micha said...

"My inclination in this discussion is to move away from cheap grace or desparate legalism, but my thoughts are primarily focused on that person who is weighted down with guilt for not measuring up"
Measuring up to which standards/expectations?

Greg said...

John,
My question was picking up on your statement to Lukas and Celine at the end of your last comment - moving away from what God requires of us. See it there?

At any rate, yes, the hope that God is renewing the world and we are part of that renewal has not yet been brought out, and it's a helpful addition. I wonder what this means for a Christian identity and the problem of the almighty 'I'?

Greg said...

Micha,
Any standards that the guilty and condemned set up for themselves.

Patricia said...

I clearly remember the day - many years ago - when shortly after I had run "home" from my prodigal wanderings that I was crushed by the depth of my depravity and the weight of my sins. I was grieved to the point of despair and I remember my husband (who had a few more years of wandering of his own yet to do) after seeing my constant flow of tears telling me "your faith obviously isn't working for you". My deep, deep grief was a response to overwhelming guilt, and with no one to disciple me, I did one of two things: tried (and failed) to "measure up" or believed what my husband was telling me and concluded that my "faith" wasn't real.

A few years later, it was while singing the verse from "It is Well" that says, "...my sin, not in part, but the whole, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more..." that the "light" came on and I began to immerse myself in the gospel in the book of John. Jesus didn't tell the woman caught in adultery to get up and get to work...He simply said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

Go to the cross, repent, and get up. Go to the cross, repent, and get up. Before I understood the cross, I felt unworthy to even touch the hem of His garment, so to speak, but when I began to understand the truth - that Christ died because none of us will ever measure up except at the cross - then I could allow the Holy Spirit and not the enemy to control my thinking - and therefore my living.

Sure hope that makes sense.

Patricia said...

I meant to add that I've got to grab my "chocolat chaud, et un croissant" and leave the ZigZag café for a while, but this has been a great discussion and I'll stop back by later to read more.

Blessings!

Micha said...

"Do you think that all those tears and screams, combined with the misery of the world, have been addressed by God?"

Wow, thats a question. You really ask me that question? Well, the Christian answer should be: Yes, of course, what a question!
But ...
The Christian worldview says that mankind is evil and God is good, but I am not sure about this. Because as I perceive reality I ask myself whether there are pure victims in this world or at least people who have experienced that much pain that they cant be held responible for their actions. And there is so much pain in this world that is still not adressed by God or his Christian followers. Yes, theoretically by the Cross, but actually not.
The web of being a victim and being a perpetrator is so close and thick and indistinct that it is injust to judge/condemn them and on the other hand side it is also injust to let the people just go without punishment.
But Gods response is pure condemnation. (yes, Jesus died for us, but how after all does the cross have anything at all to say to a child prostitue being abused and raped by a ... white rich American/European who cant control his lust? "You are both sinners? You do not have parents, you dont know what love is, but you are as bad as this ... "???)
So, actually I should use this opportunity to write an essay about this question but I leave it like that.
Now I am totally away from the starting question. Today we really have a ZigZag discussion. I am sorry but you asked me this question and I couldnt resist.
Maybe we just leave it like that and you pick up my question as a starting point for another ZigZag discussion.

Greg said...

Patricia,
Thanks for this. Yes, it does make sense and I think we're getting somewhere.

As I see it, recognizing that 'I' am not at the center, but that the crucified and risen One is, gives us a remarkable redirecting of guilt and condemnation if we're willing to embrace it. The subtle power of guilt and condemnation is that it keeps the 'I' right at the center, while despicably enticing us to believe that we have to redouble our efforts to deal with it. The subterfuge of the almighty 'I' is that it always seeks, one way or another, to maintain it's position, which in truth it really has no right to, guilt and condemnation or not.

Greg said...

Micha,
There is no such thing as a pure victim. While someone may be a horrific victim of the other, it cannot be true that one is only this because of the trajectory of self to itself and towards the other making one at some points a victimizer. And this is all of us to greater and lesser degrees.

I would suppose that the theoretical and actual you mention about the cross depend somewhat on a perception of reality. What I mean is whether the present, while being significant, can be deemed the whole story?

Yes, good opportunity to write an essay. I'll look forward to reading it.

John said...

Greg -
Sorry, I guess I misunderstood what question you were asking.

What does God require of us? God does not require us to do works in order to be accepted, or to be a "good" Christian. It actually angers me when I hear someone say "I want to be a good Christian" or "A good Christian would not do that." What is a "good" Christian? What is a "bad" Christian? Is a "good" Christian someone who sins less than a "bad" Christian? Seems to me that both are still sinners, and therefore without Christ's blood still condemned to eternal separation from God...

God asks for repentance. He asks for a humble and repentant heart. He asks for a moldable heart that He can use to make us more into Christ's image. And yes, sin does matter. And it should be taken seriously. But when it drives us to guilt (undue, unhelpful guilt is what I am referring to here) and condemnation (that has been taken by Christ on the cross) the balance has been tipped to an unhealthy place.

Rhett & Valerie said...

Hey,

I suppose it's possible that this discussion is over on the blog, since I didn't see it until today. But...

I'd be surprised if I never dealt with feelings of shame or the burdens of guilt or condemnation ever again. Sometimes those feelings are justified, sometimes they aren't. I'd even go so far as to venture that the Lord himself may be drawing our attention to areas in our life that need to be "pruned" (ie, prideful attitudes that were previously unchecked, unfair prejudices, etc.). I think it's natural (or maybe super-natural) at that point to feel a sense of shame for true guilt, but also, possibly, a simultaneous gratitude for the Lord's mercy in shining light on our sins. However, staying in shame seems to be like arrested development. The feelings and attitudes of sorrow should lead to confession and true repentance. I think it's even possible for all these things to be happening almost at once.

Practically, when I come upon these things in my own life, I find sharing them with my husband, friends, or a trusted counselor to be immensely helpful, as is praying for the mind of Christ.

John said...

Hey Val -
Great comment, and I'm glad to see you commenting here. I'll hopefully be down in Birmingham next month with work. I'd love to see you and Rhett!

Onto your comments...
You said "I'd be surprised if I never dealt with feelings of shame or the burdens of guilt or condemnation ever again." I don't think this is the goal. I don't think we should ever expect to never have these feelings or thoughts again. It would be unhelpful to expect that, but rather I think we should hope for decreased occurrences of these feelings/thoughts.

I don't know what you mean by "shame" but I really don't think God would ever shame us. I think He convicts us, and guilt is not always a bad thing by any means, but shame? Shame is a really strong word. I don't think shame is ever good.

Greg said...

John,
Good points. God does seem to ask those types of thing from us. I think I was trying to allude to the important reality of having Christ at the center of our lives. When the 'I' starts to be convinced that guilt and condemnation have to be tamed by my efforts at doing better, then 'I' is front and center, and as was mentioned in my reply to Patricia, just where God does not want it to be. Subtle, but powerful 'I' centeredness.

Greg said...

Valerie,
Thanks. Helpful insights. I think I was trying to ask about a mindset. Something like when a sense of guilt and condemnation sets the cycle of actions inside a person, how do they respond? Try harder? So often there is the assumption that 'I' need to do better and to work harder, but this seems a laboring under the law and in fact points in the wrong direction, or at least so it seems to me. See the problem?

Turning to others is certainly appropriate, but we still have an identity issue that is bigger in regards to a response to guilt and condemnation, don't we?

Greg said...

John,
Diminshed occurrences of this mindset and the feelings that fuel it is are essential. How does that happen?

I think this question relates to Valerie's comment too. Doesn't guilt, even if it is sometimes a good thing, have a destiny and referent outside itself?

Rhett & Valerie said...

Hey Everyone,

John- I was using the word "shame" the way I understand Dick Keyes to use it in his "Beyond Identity" lectures, where "proper" shame is an indication of a conscience altered by the Holy Spirit to alert us to true guilt (like lying and feeling bad about it; generally a good thing, no? As long as you don't feel bad about it forever; post-forgiveness). This feeling of something being off helps us to repent and allow God to change us, doesn't it?

Greg- It seems like a mindset fueled by condemnation and guilt is inappropriate, like you're saying. I think I was thinking that "becoming a better Christian" is just becoming a Christian with clearer understanding regarding who we are in Christ. Maybe that isn't the typical understanding of "better", and I think I was missing the major thrust of the discussion.

When Christ tells us to die to ourselves and to follow him, he seems to be indicating a need to de-center the "I" you're talking about. How do we go about making this change?

John said...

Greg -
You said/asked "Diminished occurrences of this mindset and the feelings that fuel it are essential. How does that happen?"

To be honest, there is no program solution. The way it has occurred in my life is a) truly recognizing that I am an accepted, loved son of God. I have freedom to fail; b) trusting and asking God to renew my mind and to allow me to cast my unnecessary shaming guilt on Him; c) asking God for the humility to admit when I am wrong; and d) learning about and learning to accept grace in a real, life changing way.

Books I read that were helpful are Beyond Identity and Tired of Trying To Measure Up. Also "The Voice of Jesus" by Gordon T Smith was a good one that I read about the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and ways that the Spirit works in our lives tangibly.

Micha said...

So guys

How then can transformation take place in our life?

Greg said...

Valerie,
Thanks for the clarifications. Yes, a de-centered 'I' that is morphed into a true self through being baptized into the death of Christ and being raised to new life in him at the center of this self's life. In truth, the 'I' never was really there, we just thought it was.

John said...

By the grace of God, Micha. The grace of God alone.

For me, it was a combination of knowledge (a right understanding of sin, identity before God, and grace), being aware of my shortcomings (honestly), remembering where I have come from and seeing where I am now (and not saying that I have to be to a certain place in life by a certain time), and then relaxing and letting God do His work in me.

I really would recommend The Voice of Jesus by Gordon T Smith. It's the best book I've ever read on the Holy Spirit.

Greg said...

John,
Thanks for these four perspectives. My concern is still to see Christ at the center, which then grounds everything else, including these examples.

Greg said...

Micha,
If God is out to transform the world the key expression of that is in Christ's death and resurrection. Christ then has the rightful place at the center of our lives, which in turn translates into a new way of living that begins and ends with a redemptive transformation through the power of the Spirit that reaches out to the entire creation.

Susan said...

Wow! there has been a great discussion going on - while I've been sleeping!

I see your point Greg that when we focus on guilt and condemnation it is really the "I" we are concerned about. But when we focus on God's grace and mercy then we are centrering on God. At least, that's what I understand from the discussion.

I read on another blog this comment: there is a big difference between “I suck” and a truly humble heart. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that we are being humble but in truth we keep the attention on ourselves.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Greg, thanks for the discussion!

John, sorry if I made you angry!

It seems I am on the wrong track. I thought, there was something like "better" Christians. Better in the way that they better implement the state they have before God. Not better in their state. And this state is assured through the cross. Those two last points are crucial, but do they change the possibility to be good or bad at living it? And this is what this blog is about, right?

Works? Works of the spirit. But works through the renewed "I". I use this word on purpose. It seems very in contrast to the "de-centered I".

Maybe I did not get the question. But this is, what strikes me - as a Christian and as someone believing in Romans 8,1 theoretically and I assume also practically. I do not have an answer to this question yet. And I do not see it answered here. At least not in a form I understand. Maybe guilt and condemnation are not the words I would use for the emotions that arise, but anyway; maybe I am just still to much of an egoist...

Greg: Is that your answer?
The subtle power of guilt and condemnation is that it keeps the 'I' right at the center, while despicably enticing us to believe that we have to redouble our efforts to deal with it. The subterfuge of the almighty 'I' is that it always seeks, one way or another, to maintain it's position, which in truth it really has no right to, guilt and condemnation or not.
Even more convinced now of my egoism...

Lukas

John said...

Lukas -
You didn't make me angry at all! I guess I just get passionate about this topic, that's all, because it's near and dear to my heart. I think what you've said has been very helpful to the discussion!

I agree with you, Greg, that it's important to keep Christ's work at the center, and to allow the Holy Spirit to do its work. I've been trying to emphasize that the changes I've seen in my life have NOT been my power, not by trying harder. Trying harder only dug me into a deeper hole. By giving it over to Christ, and accepting His work on the cross not only intellectually but also in my heart of hearts, my life changed.

Greg said...

Susan,
Yes, that seems to be the appropriate response to the deceptive 'I' that wants to center on itself and not Christ and his work.

Greg said...

Lukas,
Thanks. Yes, that is what this blog is about and yes this is the beginning of the answer, but now we have to live it from the depth of our bones and marrow. Following the crucified and risen One means that he is righfully to be at the center of our lives.

Greg said...

John,
Thanks. Helpful insights. What do you think of this? A Christ centered person might work harder, but if it's from a Christ centered perspective and not from the deceptive power of guilt and condemnation, would this be a problem?

Micha said...

Sorry for not sounding Christianlike, but -
I dont believe in an impact of the Holy Spirit - dont remind me of Scripture. There I read a lot about the Holy Spirit.
I focus on Reality, rather on my perception of Reality.
How am I transformed? Through people, through their model, through knowledge (books about the Jesus, about the Holy Spirit), but never (as I perceive it(I hope I dont insult the Holy Spirit)) through the Holy Spirit.
Years of not understanding, years of waiting desperately for ansers arent solved by the Holy Spirit but by knowledge, by rolemodels for what I HAVE TO LOOK FOR.

Micha said...

I used the capital letters with the intention to emphasize it

Greg said...

Micha,
No apologies necessary. Your perception of reality, while valid and important, is not reality. it's bigger than all that.

There is mystery in the work of the Spirit, but work there is. Our knowledge and looking to others for it, while valuable, will be drastically limited as the narrative of God and his work relates to yet transcends life as we know it.

harry coe maynard said...

Hi,

Ammazing, Lots of comments.

In reading this it dawned on me the miracle of Christian conversation and Fellowship if you will.

When Christians get together Blog or otherwise to talk about anything you experience something totally different than the world around you, a different Reality.

Another Voice seems to enter the conversation. the empty Chair at the Table. Perfectionist experience an otherworldly perfection Kindly and Forgiving but demanding at the same time.

Another thought... I think of Peter saying I will never deny you and Jesus saying of come now Peter before the Cock crows...

I think of Hudson taylor on Brighton Beach struggling.

Pilgrims Progress.

all

HCM

HCM

Greg said...

Hary coe,
Thanks for your comment and suggestions for reflection.

Patricia said...

Good morning all! I really hated having to leave the discussion yesterday. I've always felt the pull to L'Abri and I imagine that the discussions around the dinner table there must go much like this one.

Yes, yes, yes - weighted with guilt is certainly a focus on "I" rather than on the cross - and yes, both are motivations for works, but when motivated by guilt I begin to wear thin and cease to bear the fruit of the Spirit - motivated by the cross in response to the Holy Spirit there is good fruit. Motivated by guilt, I can have the appearance of good fruit externally (it is my natural nature), but if others could see me alone, they would know it was a facade. Motivated by the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and with a renewed mind, the fruit of the Spirit is not just a public show - but evident even when I am alone.

John said...

Greg-
You asked "What do you think of this? A Christ centered person might work harder, but if it's from a Christ centered perspective and not from the deceptive power of guilt and condemnation, would this be a problem?"

I don't want to underplay at all the importance of doing our part in sanctification, in killing the lusts of the flesh and seeking to be more Christlike. We do play an active role in this. But what I'm trying to get at is that by our own power solely, we're not going to get far, because our power, our self control, etc. is still bound up in a sinful, albeit redeemed and being redeemed, person.

So I guess I'm saying that I think we need to be proactive in killing sin, yet also asking God to work in and through us.

I just know that when I tried and try to do things on my own, I end up failing. I think Harry brought up a good point with perfectionism. That attitude is present in many of us, and breaking free from that perfectionism is another step in the process. A book I would recommend on that is "Perfecting Ourselves To Death" by Richard Winter, I believe.

So in answer to your question, Greg, I don't know. What do you mean "from a Christ-centered perspective and not from the deceptive power of guilt and condemnation"?

John said...

And Patricia, yes. These discussions take place ALL the time at L'Abri. It's quite life transforming! If you one day get a chance to come to L'Abri for a bit, I would encourage it!

Greg said...

Patricia,
Meal discussions here can be pretty intense and dynamically helpful. What an opportunity to eat and live together. True, even when we're alone it counts because lots of life is lived inside. Jesus continually underlines this dimension of who we are.

Greg said...

John,
Thanks for your helpful response to the question posed. What I mean by working harder from a Christ centered perspective is that here one is free to work, not caught by the destructive enslaving temptation to work on my own account because of guilt and condemnation.

John said...

Greg-
I agree then. Working from a Christ centered perspective means we realize that we are under grace, not duty, and are free to work towards sanctification. I think a good indicator that we are living under grace is when we fail, realize that sanctification is a process and we are on that road, and then can continue working without those feelings of undue and unhealthy guilt and condemnation coming into our minds.