Becoming through accepting reality

The wonderful thing about our journey with God is that it always starts from where we are – not from where we should have been or could have been!

Our experience of weakness and failure and of making wrong choices does not have to weigh us down.

If we know how greatly we are loved by God, and how much God wants to forgive us, it becomes easier to move on. And that is the kind of love God revealed to us through Jesus.

“Moving on” doesn’t mean disowning the negative moments in our personal history.

Just the opposite: it involves accepting ourselves as the person we actually are, including our incompleteness!

“I am the person who made those choices – some of them good and some bad”.

I think we are more vulnerable to disappointment when we imagine we are supposed to “have it all together”.

Even God hasn’t put that expectation on us: becoming is an unfinished process, and we are a work in progress.

Accepting reality also means not needing masks, pretences or excuses.

Sometimes this takes time.

Shame or guilt or anger or pride or sadness can get in the way.

But these are only stages on the journey.

The important thing is to keep moving towards self-acceptance.

If we need to be forgiven, then that is our reality.

And when God forgives, that is also part of our reality – so we don’t get stuck with a sense of guilt; we gratefully and joyfully move on.In one of his parables Jesus contrasts a person who is in denial with one who is honest:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing aside, said this prayer to himself: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people – greedy, dishonest, adulterous, or even like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ The tax collector stood some distance away, not even raising his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’. It was this man, I tell you, who went home at rights with God, not the other. (Luke 18:10-14)

Being forgiven is a liberating experience.

But so is the ability to forgive!

Psychologists point out that our mental health and physical health can be harmed if we are unforgiving and harbour resentment.

It’s our self who is harmed by holding on to resentment.

Forgiving those who have wronged us is healing for our self as well.

To forgive can take moral courage in a society where many can only think of punishment.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless God’s holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
and never forget all his blessings.

It is God who forgives all you guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
or repay us according to our faults. (Psalm 102:1-4,8,10)

  • +Peter Cullinane was the first bishop of the Diocese of Palmerston North. Now retired he continues to be a respected writer and leader of retreats and is still busy at local, national, and international levels. Here he shares his reflections on sciences and Christian faith. To conclude the introduction of this series he quotes Albert Einstein, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
  • This is the fifth in a series of chapters from his letter to senior students
  • Image: Manawatu Standard

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