A few years ago I said something that hurt one of my close friends. I can still remember the feeling of regret and embarrassment when I realized what I had done.
I quickly apologized and received his forgiveness. However, what I remember the most about this conflict was not the feeling the joy of forgiveness but my constant effort to prove that I was a good friend. I was also aware of his subliminal effort to prove to me that our friendship was fine. It was really AWKWARD…It wasn’t until we had spent enough time together that I was able to put aside my desire to prove my repentance and I just enjoy friendship.
We often do the same thing to God when we dwell on thoughts of condemnation. We sin, repent, then WE make things awkward. WE act as if there is something in addition to repentance that WE need to do. Or maybe WE think that God has some kind of waiting period after our sin before he can truly forgive us. If WE make it through our “repentance and holiness examination” then he will be able to resume loving us. Or perhaps you think you have to re-earn your right to be used by him.
This type of self-centered thinking is not in line with the Gospel!
Paul addresses this in Romans 8
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh- Romans 8:1-3
Christ experienced full separation from the Father so that you and I do not have to. Rather than just waiting for an apology, God demonstrated his love for us prior to our repentance by taking our condemnation.
He acted first!
Why would we ever question his willingness to forgive ? Or feel a hesitance to approach him? So how do I overcome that feeling of condemnation? I would say there are three key thoughts.
1) Recalibrate our understanding and perception of God in the person of Jesus.
2) Discover that God desires friendship and intimacy with us more than we do.
3) Spend time with him expressing the most vulnerable part of who you are.
Just as time with my friend helped me to trust in his forgiveness, so will time with the Father remove doubts about his grace. If you are struggling with condemnation, run towards his presence rather than hiding from it. Stop making things awkward between you and God. You are forgiven in Christ.