Sinner or God’s Image and Likeness?

It won’t do you a particle of good to enter upon a career of self-condemnation. Remorse never got anybody into heaven. A sense of regret and all that sort of thing is not the process. The process is reform; it is change; it is correction…There is no merit in suffering. The only merit there is is in transformation. I have found people carrying along their agony because they thought it was entirely proper to be everlastingly berating and condemning themselves. You will never get to heaven that way…There is nothing rational in self-condemnation. One may condemn the error, but not himself – never himself.” – Edward A. Kimball, Lectures and Articles on Christian Science 

I have come to believe that self-condemnation is one of the most self-indulgent of things.  It doesn’t really fix anything, you know? We sit in it, ruminate on it, live and relive scenes from our lives over and over again, full of regrets and guilt – and how, I ask you, does that make us, or the world we live in, any better?

You know, I wonder if a lot of the world thought about guilt and self-condemnation can be traced back to the allegory in the third chapter of Genesis –  the chapter with talking reptiles and forbidden fruit, and Jehovah booting his own creation out of Paradise because they’re unworthy to experience it.  I can see how, if someone interpreted that chapter literally, one’s future might look pretty bleak.

I myself have always preferred the first chapter of Genesis.  In this first chapter of Genesis we don’t see a sinful man and woman – we see man and woman made in the “image and likeness” of God – of Love. (And if man is made in the image and likeness of God, It would actually be kind of insulting to God to say that we’re all sinners, right?)

In his beautiful sermon on love, The Greatest Thing in the World, Henry Drummond has this to say about “sin”: “Many things that men denounce as sins are not sins; but they are temporary… John says of the world, not that it is wrong, but simply that it ‘passeth away.’ There is a great deal in the world that is delightful and beautiful, there is a great deal that is great and engrossing, but it will not last. All that is in the world, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, are but for a little while. Love not the world therefore. Nothing that it contains is worth the life and consecration of an immortal soul…You will give yourself to many things; give yourself first to love. Hold things in their proportion.” – Henry Drummond

Holding “things in their proportion” is one of the keys to sanity, I think. I believe we sometimes make too much of “sin” – focus our energies on fearing it and fighting it and giving it up, rather than focusing our time on what will really help and heal us – on filling our lives up with the good stuff – love, joy, kindness, hope. In Lectures and Articles on Christian Science, Edward A. Kimball writes: “ a purely giving up endeavor does not give up, but does involve the scientist in a greater sense of fear. Evil is never disposed of as though it were something. It cannot be given up as though it were something… Try to realize that through Christian Science, you are constantly gaining that which will do everything for you, and that you will succeed according to the gaining process.”

We are Love’s creation, created in the image and likeness of Good.  I believe that about you and I believe that about me, too. We are way cool.

“Behold, now are we the sons of God.” – I John 3:2

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