The Good News: It’s Not All About Guilt

Yesterday I suggested that we need to be more aware of cultural diversity and of the guilt-innocence, shame-honor and fear-power paradigms intermixing in glocal cultures.

I also suggested it has implications for how we share the good news, for our paradigms shape what we see as good news.

Today I want to draw people’s attention back to the Bible, which engages with all three of these cultural paradigms.

Guilt, Innocence and the Gospel

How do we judge yourself? Never mind God’s standards, what about your own standards? Do you always live up to them? Does falling short of your own expectations get you down? How do you deal with that? Here are some passages on guilt and God’s forgiveness to reflect on.

Genesis 44:16
“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”

Deuteronomy 25:1
When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty.

John 16:8
When he comes, he will prove that the world’s people are guilty. He will prove their guilt concerning sin and godliness and judgment.

Romans 5:16
The result of God’s gift is different from the result of Adam’s sin. God judged one sin. That brought guilt. But after many sins, God’s gift made people right with him.

Hebrews 10:22
So let us come near to God with an honest and true heart. Let us come near with a faith that is sure and strong. Our hearts have been sprinkled. Our minds have been cleansed from a sense of guilt. Our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Shame, Honor and the Gospel

Have you ever done something that brought friends into disrepute because they were associated with you? Dig it bring them down with you? Did it sabotage more than just your hopes? Here are some passages on shame and God’s welcome to reflect on.

Proverbs 3:35
The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame.

Zephaniah 3:19
At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.

Romans 2:7
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

1 Corinthians 12:23
and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,

1 Peter 1:7
These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Fear, Power and the Gospel

Have you ever felt anxious? Have you ever let your anxiety and a lack of perspective lead you down a destructive path? Have you ever felt powerless and overwhelmed? Here are some passages on fear and God’s empowerment to reflect on.

Isaiah 11:2
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD –

Luke 10:19
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

Luke 12:4-5
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Romans 1:16
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

1 Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

In the face of guilt, shame and fear the resurrection of Jesus all good news, but what resonates more will depend on where you are coming from.

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