Posted by: zephaniah317 | February 7, 2008

Punishment

16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

 17By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  1 John 4:16-18, NASB

pun·ish·ment 
noun
Date: 15th century
1: the act of punishing  2 a: suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution b: a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure  3: severe, rough, or disastrous treatment

Big discovery this week:  Everything I’ve ever done worthwhile in my life has been done out of fear of punishment.  No because I love doing it, not because I love whom I’m doing it for, but because I’m afraid of getting hammered if I don’t do it, or don’t do it right.  And I’ve lived the lie that this is normal.  I’ve never known the joy of completing a job well done, just because I enjoyed doing it.  It’s forever been something more like “whew!  I made it, and no one got mad or made fun of me!”.  This is what hell is like, I am absolutely sure.  I got it from my Dad, and transferred it over to God.  It came with realizing just how damaging it was to live with my father for 22 years.  How his (1) yelling and (2) threatening and (3) occasional butt-whoopin’ (southern term) for things that today wouldn’t even register as a problem in some families, destroyed my heart and sent it into hiding, and most damaging of all, distorted my view of God and love and forgiveness and relationship.  Doesn’t matter.  I’ve still lived with it all my life.  I don’t know anything else.  I’ve had glimpses, but nothing lasting, because, hey, God’s like this, too. 

If I did anything to love my (ex-)wife, it was because I was afraid of what she’d say (to others, or me) or do to me if I didn’t do it, or didn’t do it well.  Whenever I’ve played music in public, that’s the fear that has crippled me and hampered my enjoyment and focus on God.  Heck, it’s the reason I’m still going to church all these years; because I’m afraid what’ll happen if I don’t.  Why?  Because I believed that it was normal, that my view of God in this way was normal.

Side effects:  (1) If you have an addiction, you never get free, because you never feel forgiven, and if you somehow manage to not give in to it for a while, or somehow kick it, it’s a life lived in fear of continuing in it, not because you love yourself enough (or others) to stop.  There is eventually belief that you don’t sin, and there’s no relaxing, not for a moment.  Again, this is hell.  (2) Anger.  Especially when you’re not allowed to express it early on in life.  It’s one thing to get punished, it’s another to be condemned and punished undeservingly, and yet another to get both barrels and not be allowed to stand up for your case.  Probably the most frustrating and maddening thing I’ve ever faced, and I’ve only faced it in the two relationships in my life that have affected me the most.  With my parents and my ex.

And forgiveness is the way to freedom.  My pastor once used the analogy, if someone walks up to you and stabs you in the chest, what are you going to do?  Yell at them because they stabbed you in the chest, and probably bleed to death, or realize that you’re wounded and get to the emergency room?  Emotional wounds are very similar in that untreated, can kill a person very slowly, but the person doesn’t die…the heart does.  Mine went into hiding and put up walls to make sure it never got hurt again, and I cleaned up my act, not because I valued morals or my relationship with God, but so I wouldn’t get hammered by Him or others if I screwed up again.  Man, oh, man…what a way to live.

It’s been amazing and freeing to realize how angry I’ve been inside, and unable (seemingly) to do anything about it.  Amazing the clarity that comes with a forgiven heart.  Now, the hard thing is going to be learning how to love my Dad, the harbinger of all this stress in my life.  I guess it’ll be easy for now, our weekly (Sunday afternoon) phone conversations consist of:  How’s the job, how’s the weather, did you watch the game, it’s <insert weather condition> here, I’m bored, did you go to church, did you sing, did you play?  OK, talk to you later, I love you.  We’ll see.  God’s gonna have to help me there, to find the balance between vengeance and fear of him.  I just know I don’t want to harbor anything against him.

So, can someone tell me what life without punishment and condemnation looks like?  How is it?  Must be wonderful to have lived such a life for so long.  I’ve seen the beginnings of it this morning when I felt God’s forgiveness, because yes, I sin every day, just like everyone else.  I can’t wait to see what develops.  Hopefully someone can use my name and “lighthearted” in the same sentence soon.  Awesome!  Thank you Jesus, for suffering my penalty on the cross.

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Responses

  1. […] context, to be in that full, intimate relationship with Him.  I did not say nearly enough in my last post about how God does not punish us.  He pursues us, and never lets go.  There is no punishment for […]


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