Friday, February 21, 2014

Haunted no more

The other evening while flipping through the TV channels my eyes came across one of the most disturbing commercials I've ever seen - quite a feat given the amount of filth flashed on screens across America. I'll protect you from the details.
The commercial I'm referring to was promoting an upcoming movie. The movie, the name of which I can't remember, is a horror film featuring, of course, dead people. Isn't that always the premise of every scary movie? You'd think that the public would be sick of seeing the same plot with a changing title played on repeat at the cost of $8.00 a ticket. Maybe people are just going for the popcorn.
But back to the commercial... As I watched the zombie-like woman covered in rags and chains, cast in a variety of gray and black tones, I couldn't help but wonder who would want to take on such a role? Who would want the to play the part of the walking-dead woman who haunts the lives of the living?
Can you picture the day the actress for that role got "the call"? Did she jump at the opportunity to portray this character? Did she immediately phone her Mom and Dad, giddy with excitement, practically screaming, "I got it! I got it! I'm going to be 'walking dead woman #1!"
Mom and Dad must be so proud.
But really, what is the appeal of that dark, evil, sinister role? The costume isn't flattering. In fact the actress probably (hopefully) looks a thousand times better in real life than she does in the film. White, pasty makeup and shadowy lighting usually doesn't do much for the complexion. Even Halle Berry wouldn't look her best under those circumstances.
On top of the not-so-flattering look, the character who haunts her victims rarely says much. She almost never has a big monologue where her acting talent is put on display in all of its glory. She is never the character to get all the laughs, display a keen comedic timing.
The appeal of the role of the haunting zombie is completely lost on me.
I'm sorry to say that there is another kind of haunting role that I know and understand all too well. Just like the zombie woman, this haunting role doesn't have much appeal. It is distressing, bringing with it darkness and negativity. There is nothing attractive about this role, yet I've allowed it to play a staring role in the recesses of my mind.
Its name is guilt.
I have a terrible tendency to hold on to guilt. I've laid guilt on myself for past sins that date back years. The corrupt and sinful behaviors that took place in my years at college in particular have relentlessly plagued me. I am a great one for self-condemnation. The lies, broken promises, promiscuity, corrupt behavior and disobedience that has taken place in my past has filled me with shame. The regret for my sinfulness has weighed heavily on my heart and mind.
Guilt has played a haunting role in my life. The worst part is, I've let it happen. I've offered it the role! Why would I allow such a role to be played in the story of my life? Guilt is nothing but darkness and negativity, haunting its victim with despair and regret that take a toll on the spirit. I wouldn't want to watch a movie with a zombie haunting the living, so why do I let guilt haunt me?
Jesus came so that I wouldn't have to live in this constant state of shame and guilt. He came so that the guilty, like me, could go free. All those who accept His free gift of salvation are no longer condemned. As 1 John 1:9 teaches, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Jesus came to do the job of cleansing the guilty.
Jesus, the perfect Lamb, died in my place. On the cross He bore the nails of my sin. Every lie, every corrupt thought and deed, every disobedient behavior was nailed to the cross. He cried out to His Father, bearing in His flesh pain and torture because I sinned. I did that to Him. I nailed Him to the cross. 
And yet, He rose again. The grave could not keep Him. My sin could not put an end to Him. After He took all of my shame and guilt on His innocent, perfect body He died and then He rose. He triumphed over all that I did wrong and every sin I ever committed or will commit. No sin will ever be too big for Him. He has overcome it already. In His victory He washed me, cleansing me from all my unrighteousness. He renewed my spirit and relieved the haunting memories of past regret and sin. 
By repenting of my sins I am united with Christ in the overcoming of sin. Through Him I am a new creation. I am no longer a creation haunted by my guilt and shame. All guilt has been put to death. Shame has been removed as far from me as the east is from the west. Jesus has paid the price. He has provided for me forgiveness. 

As a new creation, saved by the blood of Christ guilt should no longer play a role in my life. That evil character who haunts thoughts and lies to hearts no longer has a place in my story. I am not a child living under a shadow of shame. I am a child of the Redeemed. I am forgiven and loved and cleansed.
There might appear to be an opening for a new character to enter into the story of my life, a new role to cast. You'd be right. There is a new character and the role has already been filled. Forgiveness is taking center stage, playing a glorious part in the story of my life that is unfolding before my eyes. There is no place for the darkness of guilt and condemnation because forgiveness has come with light and beauty, telling the magnificent story of true redemption.

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