years ago when my kids were little (and we only had a couple!) jose and i did scripture memory cards together as a spiritual practice (oh, those good old days). it is amazing how many of those passages are still embedded into my heart and i am thankful for them in all kinds of ways. one of those passages that i remember memorizing was romans 8:1--“therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” some of you might even remember that worship song that goes along with it. i can belt it out like it was yesterday and it’s probably been over 12 years since i have heard it.
my experience has been that this verse is a very hard one for a lot of us to embrace on a practical level.
sure, many can say “because of Jesus i don’t have to live condemned any longer” but in the day-to-day experience of life there often lingers all kinds of real feelings of guilt, shame, falling-short-ness, self-loathing, and all-around-not-feeling-loved-and-secure.
during this month at the refuge we are walking through romans 8 together at our saturday night gatherings. part of our hope this year is to restore some of the ways we interact with the Bible and learn to see it with new eyes. it is so hard when so many have had such ugly experiences with it being used as a weapon to bring guilt & shame instead of freedom & hope. sure, there are all kinds of things in romans that give me twitches but i am looking at those reactions not as a reason to shut the book but to ask God to reveal in fresh & deep ways what these passages might mean here, now. it’s been really good for me.
when it comes to this passage, i have a great sadness that so many people who love Jesus and have followed him for years and years often feel so unloved & unworthy & bound up. it’s nuts, really, all of the insecurity and locked-up-ness that pervades the christian church. it is supposed to be the place that restores sight & sets people free, not the opposite!
i have come to believe that one of the greatest sins is the giving ourselves over to the perpetual feeling of being unloved & unworthy.
for many, the world has given us a lot of reasons to believe this. life has not been fair.
for others, the church has given us a lot of reasons to believe this. we’ve been taught a lot about our miserable wretchedness but not very much about our made-in-God’s-imageness.
learning to live without condemnation is no easy task but my hope is that more and more of find healing in that area so we can live more free and strong with the spirit of God constantly renewing and reminding us of the truth about who we are as God’s children.
holy. dearly loved. free. secure. worthy. treasured.
in the midst of our humanness.
i love the message version of this romans 8:1 passage:
“those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. a new power is in operation. the Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”
read that a few times and consider:
what words or passages jump out at you?
how have you been you breaking free from condemnation and its low-lying black cloud?
what condemning messages about yourself would you like to be cleared out this year so the sun can shine more brightly in your day-to-day life?
my ongoing practice is that when the ugly condemning thoughts come (because i can’t control them, only what i choose to do about them) that i picture God’s spirit gently blowing them away, so they don’t settle over my head, robbing me of life & love & peace.
have a great weekend. peace and hope, kathy
ps: if you are new here, every friday (or saturday sometimes) i’ve been posting a “formation friday” reflection. other ones can be found here.