The following is from "The Message" version of the Holy Bible:
"19 -21What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily."
The outward appearances of perfection & goodness were values that my family of origin highly esteemed. But just like St. Paul recognized, these are messed-up values.It is the very same spirit that he wrote about: "If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily."
We were religious, but not faith-filled for the most part. My parents were good people who gave it their best shot while raising their family in some difficult times. I don't think it was something intentional, but the message was loud & clear although not verbally spoken. This led to all sorts of chaos that was internalized by me & my siblings in a variety of ailments & addictions. In "Celebrate Recovery" we refer to these as 'habits, hurts & hang-ups'.
The Catholic faith & traditions were certainly emphasized, but a relationship with the Resurrected Living Jesus Christ was something that our Protestant neighbors & friends had. Mostly, we mocked others who turned to God in their 'weakness'. Reading the bible for ourselves was not ever done, that I recall. We did have a big honkin family bible, but mostly it was a dust collector.
Since being perfect to the eyes of all beholders is a full-time demand, it was a heavy burden for those of us who weren't. When it is totally inexcusable is when we begin to sacrifice our children for the sake of appearing perfect. We have aborted our own because we couldn't bear to live with the shame of carrying an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, we have abandoned our offspring because of the embarrassment, and have otherwise sacrificed our children on this altar of a false god. Idolatry? I think it is a bizarre form of worshiping a false god which rears its ugly head in many families today. I was told recently that I 'shamed our family name'!! Lord have mercy on us all!
Grace is the only way to live with your self & stay sane. Trying to measure up will continually lead us to failure. Grace is defined as an unmerited reward. We can DO NOTHING to earn God's grace!! We can gratefully accept it & begin a new life of thanksgiving for this merciful gift! I have heard an acronym for GRACE that has stayed with me through the years: "God's Riches At Christ's Expense"
Let us all endeavor today to accept His free gift of GRACE & MERCY. It is the only way of escape! Don't wait to play your 'get out of jail free' card. Today is the day! This is the day of salvation!! ***This I know!