Guilt, and what to do about it

I’ve been thinking a lot about guilt recently. I run across people who look guilty when they see me and haven’t been to church recently. Or when people find out I’m a pastor and they’ve just said something they’re embarrassed about. I know I feel guilty when I act in ways I shouldn’t or even think things that I know are not right.

So, what to do? Do we just get over the feelings and go about our business? I know this is nothing new. St. Paul stated, “?For I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help. I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time?.I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does!” Romans 7:15ff The Message.

I guess misery loves company because that gives me real comfort. However, knowing Paul experienced guilt does not really help me out until I get the end that Jesus Christ is the answer. Whew! Now that is what I hang my life on. Jesus truly is our help and source of true transformation. So, we’re back to the question of how to encounter Jesus.

As I’ve stated before, I think meeting with a family of faith is one of the best ways to allow Jesus to truly make us better. In this family, we interact with each other and as imperfect as we all are, we encourage each other to do better, be better. If you don’t find that where you are worshiping (or have worshiped), then keep looking until you find a place that keeps Jesus as the example and not the particular church you are attending. The church (people) will always let you down, Jesus never will. You do not need to be converted to a church but to Jesus Christ. He can deal with your guilt (and folks, we are all guilty) and help you be the person you wish to be. Guilt? No good unless it causes us to do something positive – unless it points us to Jesus.

And as before, I don’t know who is reading this, but know I have prayed for you! Regardless of who you are, what you believe, your faith or lack of faith, your political leanings, your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, your status, your health, your age, your education – you have been prayed for! God promises to meet you where you are. God loves you. Period.

Janice Hill is Pastor at the Mid Ohio Valley Parish, First Christian Church in Parkersburg and Central Christian Church, Marietta. She moved here from Texas and began her ministry in the Mid Ohio Valley Sept. 1, 2011.