Saturday, January 08, 2005

the grudge: part two

I just finished watching the movie The Grudge. It was definitely an interesting movie to say the least. There were some suspenseful and jumpy parts (just ask Jess and Lindsey!), but, for me, it wasn't as scary or as freaky as The Ring. I think most of this is due to the fact that a friend and I watched Ju-on, the Japanese movie that The Grudge is based on. The plot and much of the scarier scenes were known to the both of us--of course we still jumped a couple of times.
I'm not here to write about my movie-going experiences, though. What struck me about the movie was the slavery and bondage that everyone who went into the house experienced. Japanese lore, according to the movie, states that if a murder was a byproduct of rage, the emotion resides in the house where the murder happened touching everyone who enters. Once the characters encountered The Grudge, they lived in fear and eventually died. The evil rage and bitterness that caused the plot hunted them down and put them in chains.

Yesterday I wrote about how bitterness and unforgiveness on our part enslaves us. It eats away at us until it utterly consumes our spirit, mind and even our body. We, as believers, must learn to forgive others when we are wronged. We must not hold these emotions inside and allow them to fester inside of us. To do otherwise is to forsake the beautiful freedom we are given and exchange it for false, tormenting bondage.

There is another kind of "grudge" bondage we often place ourselves in that also deals with forgiveness; only this bitterness is not toward someone else, but towards ourselves. We all screw up--some of us much more so than others (once again a personal confession!). We sin against God, against other people and even against ourselves. It's not as if we desire to do this; it just seems to happen. We desire to live righteous, holy lives and yet we seem to fall so much of the time.

Once again, after committing to holy living, we find ourselves at the bottom of a pit, reaching out our arms to our Abba Father, crying out for forgiveness and grace. Like He always does when we confess (1 John 1:9), He forgives us, picks us out of the miry clay, cradles us in His powerful arms of love and soothes our aching soul. We rest in His presence, knowing we are forgiven...knowing He is faithful.

When we venture out from His embrace, though, nagging thoughts seem to come from nowhere. How could God forgive me...I'm a horrible person. I don't even care about living righteously...all I care about is sin and making myself feel better. Am I really a Christian since I seem to sin all the time? Sound familiar?

Friends, one of the hardest things to do in life, I think, is to forgive ourselves. We hold onto our past like it's some security blanket and constantly remind ourselves of our mistakes, sins and shortcomings. Don't you remember that party you went to a couple of years back.... The enemy does not need our help in attempting to condemn us, yet we--at least I always seem to give a helping hand. I agree with his accusations and then chime in a few of my own.

We need to learn not only how to forgive others, but also to forgive ourselves. Just like an unforgiving heart toward others enslaves us, so an unforgiving heart toward ourselves saps our strength, making us pray for death...or even afraid of it since God can't possibly love me. This self-condemnation destroys our relationship with both God and other people. Our self-esteem is destroyed and we constantly feel unworthy of anything good in life.

One of my friends from back home suffers from this a lot. She feels that she is unworthy of anything good in life--especially a relationship with a man. Consequently, she pushes everyone away from her not because she's afraid of being hurt, but she feels she doesn't deserve good friends. She's afraid they will see how "horrible" she is and forsake her. She's even afraid to approach her God because she's afraid He will hate her. Is she horrible? No. Does God hate her? No. Why does she think this? Because she has not forgiven herself of the things she has done.

As disciples of Christ, we have forgiveness. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our tresspasses, accordign to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." (Ephesians 1:7-8). We are forgiven! Our past is just that: past. Our sins that once held us in slavery have been nailed to the cross and our chains have been obliterated! We are forgiven by God, but we must also learn to forgive ourselves.

Therefore, no dendemnation now exists for those [us] in Christ Jesus because the Spirit's law of life in Christ Jesus has set you [us] free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). There is no condemnation for us, my friends. We are free and we are forgiven! Our past is forgotten, we only need to let it go and cling to the cross instead of our shortcomings and sin.

We are free...let us live and think like it!

until Christ is formed in us...


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