My mom moved around from church to church quite often as I was growing up. I of course, hated that, because as soon as I would establish myself among a group of friends, it seemed, I would be uprooted. Once, when I was in fourth grade, my church friends and I were working hard for the Christmas pageant we would act in just a few days later. My Sunday School teacher sternly reminded us, “Makes sure you show up for the pageant!”
It was that day that my mom told me we were leaving that church. I tried to explain my case, but to no avail. I was very distraught. Even today, occasionally, I wonder if they missed me and how it all went (probably fine, as missing Shepherd #2 usually doesn’t effect a Christmas play too much).
That event was something I could nothing about; yet, I felt guilty about it for a long time. Most of us probably have similar stories – some much more painful than mine. In episode 11 of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride), Kou reveals one such story. As his mother holes up in the hospital with cancer, he receives a call from his brother. But instead of finding solace with family, Kou can only feel guilt and despair, recalling his brother’s final words before leaving some time earlier – to take care of their mother. And although Kou has no godly ability to shoo away cancer, nor should he for any rational reason feel guilty, he still does. He can’t help it.
For Christians, guilt is a feeling that seems to be part and parcel of the religion. I think that many outside of Christianity might say as much, seeing guilt as factor in forcing people to make changes in their morality. And within, many of us may feel guilty falling to a specific sin or to many.
But one of the awesome aspects of Christianity is this – in Christ, we are no longer condemned. We no longer need to feel guilty. In fact, we shouldn’t feel guilt. Guilt isn’t and shouldn’t be a motivating factor for us to become more Christlike, because understanding what grace means is understanding this – when God sees us, He doesn’t see our sin. Instead, He sees his perfect son, whose sacrifice covered our sins. He sees an adopted son or daughter, a co-heir with Christ.
The freedom of Christ is a freedom from the grip of sin. His death and resurrection cover us and make us clean. And because we did not deserve it, for this very reason, we need not feel guilty, because we are not earning salvation; we are not paying Christ back or atoning for sin. We are covered because of Christ’s perfect and gracious love, and that love empowers us to “try, try again” as we seek to become transformed into the image of Christ, pushed forward not by guilt, but by grace.
If we’re living in guilt, we’re living in legalism – we are not living the Christian life. And if that’s the case for you, I hope you’ll remember the power of God’s grace from the time you became born again. Or if you don’t remember that kind of experience, I hope you’ll seek it out, because it’s life-changing, powerful, and immense. In fact, for our purposes, perhaps it’s Kou that puts this kind of grace experience, given to him by an unrelenting Futaba, best:
Maybe all this time, I’ve been waiting for something like this. Something like a storm.
It is a storm, a violent one that washes away the old and brings in the new, with a promise of love, and only love – and in it, there’s no more room for guilt.