Feeling Free | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
November 2018

Feeling Free

By Neal Bowes

When reading Hebrews 10:11-25, we are reminded that the sacrifice of Jesus was sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins. In fact, all sins, for everybody, for all time. Sufficient. Nothing else is needed. So, it is unfortunate that we often hold on to the guilt and shame that comes along with our sinfulness. Even though God promises that, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Hebrews 10:17, NRSV), we can often find ourselves wallowing in regret, maybe even entertaining the heretical thought that God could not possibly still love us. The Scripture tells is to approach God with confidence. To do that, we will need to put down the burden of our sin and guilt.

Gather some heavy things. It could be 4 or 5 bags of flour, or some bricks, or some huge Bible commentaries from the pastor’s office. Get a volunteer who is willing to be burdened and have them hold all of your heavy things while you have your discussion. (Let them feel the weight over time but be careful they don’t hurt themselves.)

  • Who is willing to share about a time when they felt guilty about something?
  • In what ways can feeling guilty about something impact other parts of our lives?
  • When you are in a situation with a friend and you feel guilty about something, how does that affect the relationship?
  • Can the same sort of thing happen in our relationships with God?

Remember to check in on your burdened volunteer from time to time. Read Hebrews 10:11-25.

  • What has Jesus done to free us from our sins?
  • What else needs to be done?
  • Why do we sometimes tend to hang on to guilt and shame even though Jesus has paid for our sins and God has promised to forget all about them?

Invite your volunteer to put down their load. If you have to do this before you get to this point, go ahead and get them to reflect with these questions whenever they put it down.

  • How does it feel to be able to put that down?
  • What if you would have had to carry that around the rest of the day? Would you have been able to live life effectively? Happily?

It’s really no different for us. If we burden ourselves unnecessarily with guilt and shame, when God has already forgiven us and moved on, we rob ourselves of a great deal of joy. Jesus wants us to live life fully. He wants that so much that he was willing to die for us. His death paid the penalty for our sins–there is no reason for us to continue penalizing ourselves. When we mess up, we own up to it, ask for forgiveness, ask for help doing better in the future, and then we need to move on, confident in the fact that God remembers our sin no more.

Neal has had the privilege of being in ministry with the youth at Jesse Lee for the last 15 years. He also works through the New York Annual Conference to train and support volunteer youth workers in local churches. He loves speaking at youth gatherings--group retreats or conference-wide events. www.NealBowes.com