Do you know about "the voice"?
No, no, no. Not this:
Rather ... the voice in your head.
Did you know that of all the biggest world religions there are three where adherents who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and are intent in their practice of their faith - can often fall prey to a particularly pernicious form of OCD called scrupulosity. Sufferers of scrupulosity have intense anxiety surrounding thoughts about having committed some moral infraction. In other words: they're horrified at the idea of sinning - morally, ethically or in some other way. You can read an article on scrupulosity here. The three world religions where scrupulosity is most likely to occur? Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
How interesting that Christians would face this issue. Aren't Christians; like the bumper stickers used to all say "Christians aren't perfect. just forgiven"? Really? "Just"? As if it were ... trite?
Hold that thought.
Did you also know - that those same three world religions seem to produce another similar result in another form of mental illness ... adherants of these same three global faiths who hear voices - hear judgy, condemning, and verbally abusive voices. Whereas individuals from Africa and even India - hear friendly, playful voices. Hmm. Interesting.
And again - I'm personally just a little curious - how it is that Christians, who's faith, at least in the Good Book, makes some amazing statements about forgiveness, redemption and grace - but that's not impacting people as much.
Obviously - I'm just noticing - not making a judgment, not denying the real and awful burden that mental health is - especially in a country where it's far more likely to be penalized, criminalized than insured and treated. I am noticing though - that there's something about the "It Is Finished" part of Jesus sanctifying work on the cross that's not sinking as deep into the Christian psyche as the sin part. It's like - as a global faith community - we just don't get the "Neither do I condemn you" part of Jesus interaction with the woman caught in adultery in John 8 ... we are as a people fairly hung up it seems on the "Go and sin no more part". It's as if - as soon as God's forgiveness washes us clean - we feel constrained to "humble ourselves" or "stay real" - and go right back to living as if we were still in the muck. Sometimes we even try to make it "cool" to be "broken"
But here's the thing ... has anyone ever been able to actually go and sin no more? Well, other than Jesus, of course? Wasn't the whole point of Jesus - God's own beloved Son - needing come down and live among us precisely because no one has ever actually been able to go and sin no more? Isn't at least part of what we glean from every single Bible story every kid learns in Sunday school is that they were all imperfect people? Adam & Eve sinned. Cain killed Able. Noah got hammered. Abraham lied about his wife. Twice. David slew giants, but committed adultery with Bathsheba ... Simon Bar Jonah - so impacted Jesus that the Savior gave him the nick-name "Peter" - literally, "The Rock" - yet just before the crucifixion The Rock himself - gobsmacked by fright and stress - denied having ever known Jesus with colorful language and plenty of volume. Romans 3:23 says it best.
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (NASB)
Of course - there's the other side of scripture ...
because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 (NASB)
And yet - just a couple chapters later Paul - the great New Testament theologian, reiterates that despite Romans 3:23, Here's our reason for hope:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NASB)
But - can Christians really be stuck between either Jesus' work on the cross was essential to introduce a new paradigm - and yet still - as if it were still the day before Resurrection Sunday, 33 AD live as if there were no option but being trapped in a vicious cycle of breaking the law, and atoning, and then breaking the law again, and atoning again, and on and on ad infinitim, ad nauseum?
I don't know about you - but stuck in the muck is stuck in the muck - no matter how cool you might try to make it. There HAS to be a way to live abundantly now, you know, when we're alive. There has to be a difference between our existence now - and the existence before Jesus. That can NOT be right! It's bad enough that I'm stuck there, cuz' you know, maybe that just "my problem" - but I've been asking around and have dragged an innumerable quantity of books back and forth from the Library/book store/my friend's house (shhhhh ... I'll put it back!) - and I haven't found in any book or teaching a practical and clear solution - easily implemented and simple to understand. Well - I hadn't until just a couple of years ago that is. And it seems to me that there's a huge connection between the voice that dominates our thinking - and our ability to really step out of the gloom and into forgiveness. Are we afraid to live in the light of forgiveness?