Western Christianity seems to carry several different attitudes toward the idea of self-acceptance. Depending on which worldview you grew up within, or came most in contact with, shifting to a healthy understanding of who you are as a Christian can prove a daunting task.
One view envelopes its holders in a shame-based system — you are an inherently evil person, and everything you do, even after Christ is part of your life, is untrustworthy and tinged with sin. Your heart is wicked, your emotions have nothing to say that should be listened to, and you must constantly dive deep into probing introspection, in order to search out the ugliness of your heart and confess it. Self-esteem is a negative thing, because it is “prideful.”
You are, in fact, no good.
Like most worldviews, it grew up a hybrid plant that had included a seed of truth in its inception.
Scripture speaks plainly about the sin of mankind, how it is passed on through one person to another, and the power it holds in our lives. People do have hearts and imaginations that are evil. If they did not, we would never have to worry about, or fight against, suicide bombings, domestic violence, genocide, infanticide, substance abuse, or sex trafficking.
What many presentations of the gospel leave out, however, is that when a person chooses to believe that Jesus Christ’s passion was a sufficient payment for all sin, we are released from its power.
Sin is no longer our master, and therefore no longer ought to define our identity.
This is where the church, of any stripe and denomination, truly struggles — we often believe the life of a Christian is about sin management, instead of about savoring a relationship with the Maker.
The New Testament does not refer to someone who has confessed Christ as Lord as “a sinner” in the sense of identity. That’s because that term refers to what a person did, not who they are now.
To be continued —