Enjoying the Ride to Heaven
By Stephanie Ismer
Guilt can make us pretty miserable, and getting (or giving) a guilt trip to somebody else is a sure-fire way to cause tension and dysfunction in your relationship. But some of us inflict guilt on ourselves, and cause dysfunction and tension between ourselves and our Heavenly Father.
There is a passage in Pilgrim's Progress about a man called "Little Faith" who gets attacked and robbed by a trio of bandits named "Faint-Heart, Mistrust and Guilt". After they rob him, he goes through the rest of his pilgrimage as a pretty unhappy person. He's still saved in the end, but he causes himself (and other pilgrims) a lot of trouble. Bunyan named those three bandits with reality in mind. A faint heart, mistrust, and guilt are real faith-killers. A faint-heart (that is, a lack of bravery or resolve to do what's right in the face of difficulty or opposition) creates a lack of assurance in the soul. Mistrust says "God doesn't really love you" and Guilt backs them up by giving Little Faith a guilt trip: "Look how little faith you have in God's love — you aren't even brave enough to obey Him. No wonder He doesn't love you. You think you'll get to Heaven? You've got to be kidding."
Bunyan has hit the nail on the head. When we let guilt sneak in again and condemn us, we have "little faith" in Christ's work on the cross. We say to ourselves, "if I was truly atoned for, I would not act in such a way. Therefore I must still be guilty. God must not actually love me, I must be deceived." But we forget the verse that says: "And by [God's] will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb. 10:10 and of course, four verses later it says "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." Jesus, our Lord has done it all for us. All we need is faith in Him, and He will do the rest — saving us from sin, death and hell. It has all been accomplished by that "one offering". But little faith listens to guilt, and doubts his Savior.
Sometimes we, like Little Faith, give ourselves a guilt trip because we aren't seeing enough spiritual progress in our lives. We forget that sanctification is a process. We try to do things ourselves, and we forget to abide. Faint-Heart says "This Christian life is way too hard for you!" and Mistrust says "God won't be pleased". But don't be like Little Faith — remember that your sanctification is total and complete, accomplished on the cross. Now it's just a matter of taking the journey.
Guilt Trip vs. Faith TripLet's say I need a full tank of gas to get from my house to Denver. I put all the gas I need to get to Denver (a full tank) into my car, and head down the road. The gas is burned and used over the course of my trip, but no matter what happens, or how many times I stop for Starbucks, my car has sufficient gas to make it to Denver. If I start driving recklessly along the way, and I get into a fender-bender, I will be delayed in my progress and annoy my passengers and the other drivers. But my car still has enough gas to get to Denver.
The Christian life is like that — our spiritual car has enough "gas" to get to Heaven, because Christ filled the tank. We burn that gas over the course of our lives, and we make spiritual "progress", getting further along the road to our destination. If we ignore the Bible and start "driving recklessly" our spiritual progress will be hindered and we will burden others along the road. But we will always have a sufficiently full tank for the trip. The question is: why would we want to drive recklessly?
This is where guilt comes in. Guilt makes you believe that you are undeserving of anything good. You feel uncomfortable with happiness. So, you begin to sabotage yourself and your life and your happiness by disobedience. It's like reckless driving in your spiritual car. The idea is to crash the car and total it so that you can say "See? I was never meant to get to Heaven."
But God won't let a believer crash their spiritual car. He'll keep you on the road. However, you can make the trip pretty miserable for yourself (and your passengers) along the way. Why on earth would you want to do that?
Face it: if you believe in the Lord Jesus and what He's done for you on the cross, you ARE going to Heaven. So, you may as well enjoy the ride.
Image Credit: Lynac; "Traffic jam"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Hardships | Sin-Evil
Published 6-17-11; Revised 4-27-15