BY A.J. BLAYLOCK
A problem that afflicts all people, Christian or not, is our tendency to become stuck in repetitive, demoralizing ruts.
Even Paul says in Romans 7:15 “what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves failing to do what we would like to do and repetitively doing things we despise. Though the root of the issue may be found in our sinful nature as man, what if our concept of who God is and how He loves us contributes to this effect?
I wish to examine the way that our view of God influences the way that we react to and attempt to escape sin and failure. More specifically, I propose that if we view God solely as the judge of what we have done wrong and see Him as lurking behind every corner, anxiously awaiting our next mishap, then we will, in trying to put an end to the sin that makes us feel guilty before God, be further trapping ourselves in cyclical immorality.
Yes, God is the ultimate and righteous judge, and yes, he despises sin, but he does not despise us for our sin. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross dispels that nasty rumor for good by being the greatest act of love ever performed (John 15:13 NIV).
Limiting God to the single role of judge consequently leads one to tiptoe across a plain of eggshells in desperate hope of perfection. From experience, the harder one tries to be perfect with the aim of avoiding judgement, the harder the failure is taken. The guilt of failure grows with each fault and the result of each heart-rending failure on our part leads to a beaten, battered faith in denial of the truth that we are all unfortunately doomed to make mistakes, regardless of our effort. But, what happens when we look at our Father, Abba, the One who sent His son to die so that we could escape our brokenness?
Many have likely heard that “God is love”. Yet somehow we convince ourselves that such love, literally an inseparable constituent of God’s being, is annulled when we sin. It is easy to believe that God’s love is endless and never failing until we force it to confront our own personal condemnation and guilt. However, when we realize that God’s perfect love extends to us at our darkest and that He does not enjoy watching us fail, the mistakes that we make cease to be either devastating or fatal.
This God, the true God, has promised to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
This is the same God who “is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9) and who “demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
When we look at God in the light of all the infinitely wonderful things he’s done for us and not solely the wrathful things he could do to us, then we may begin to heal our relationship to failure as a part of our existence instead of a crippling setback. Thus, we are more easily able to escape from it instead of repeatedly falling back into the same cycle.
To illustrate, let’s look at a man crossing a long beam over the Grand Canyon. Now, let’s put this same man in two scenarios: first, he is crossing this beam with an incredibly large safety net just below the beam, and in the second instance there is no such net. The presence of the safety net below brings comfort and assurance that relax our daredevil, so he crosses with ease of mind and steady step. He may fall, but his trust in the safety below him gives him confidence that will likely lead to a better attempt. When he does not have the net below him, he likewise does not have assurance of anything except certain death should he fail, and he is therefore tense, nervous, and worst of all, shaky. He becomes so preoccupied with the idea of not falling (instead of crossing the beam) that he is terrified, anxious, and more likely to make a mistake.
Jesus Christ is the safety net that allows us to walk confidently across the beam of life knowing that if we should fall, he will be there to gently catch us and return us to the right path.
However, should we ignore our safety net and focus solely on what would happen were it not there, then we will find ourselves becoming so anxious and unsteady that falling off repeatedly(sinning) is expected.
When we view God as the loving Father who gave his only Son to die for us and trust in his redeeming grace, then we become less focused on our mistakes. God is the judge, but he is a loving, forgiving one, and to view Him as anything else can lead to trapping oneself in the sin that is the root of judgement.
If one wishes to get to know the God who created us and who redeems us in His unfailing love, then a simple dive into scripture and a look at the life of Jesus will reveal a Father who loves us no matter our circumstances and sets us free from the chains of our failures.
A.J. Blaylock is an English major with a minor in religion at the University of Southern Mississippi. He hopes to use his enjoyment of reading and writing to share his faith in Christ and uplift others in their own faith.