The “#metoo” movement and the recent appointment of a United States Federal Supreme Court Judge who has been accused of sexual assault speak to issues of accusation and innocence. In both the Canadian and American justice systems, the accused is automatically assumed to be innocent until the charges are proven in court. It is up to the appropriate Prosecutor to decide whether or not the accuser is sufficiently believable and there is enough evidence before proceeding with a trial and prosecution.
For most people, this sounds like a pretty fair system. For a person who claims to follow the Christian faith, however, this should sound rather unusual. Here’s why. One of the things we Christians believe is that we are inherently guilty of sin. It doesn’t matter what the specific sin might be; we are assumed to be guilty because, thanks the Garden of Eden incident, we live in a fallen world.
Granted, that assumption of guilt doesn’t always mean that we are guilty. Most of us can make it several days without breaking one of God’s rules. Some folks can even go for a few weeks and never once do something wrong. But the principle remains. We are, as fallen creatures, naturally prone to sin and, therefore, assumed to be guilty.
This shouldn’t cause you to feel bad about yourself. The fact that we all lean towards doing naughty things, that the potential exists within us with every choice we make or action we take, does not force us to do so. It’s simply an admission that we’re not perfect and that we’re just as likely to get things wrong as we are to get them right.
While this might seem to be a troubling situation, there are a few things that should ease your sense of guilt or foreboding. First off, knowing that we’re imperfect gives us incentive to do better. With every choice and action we have an opportunity to get it right, or at least to do our best. Then there’s the fact that God has equipped us with the information we need in order not to blow it. Between the original Ten Commandments, Jesus’ commandment for us to love as we would be loved, and His own example and teachings, we are well equipped to rise above our fallen state. In addition to those physical aids, we also have the Holy Spirit’s guidance and empowerment helping us steer away from mistakes in order to follow the path of goodness and justice.
The biggest reason for not feeling guilty or ashamed is that God is merciful, just and loving. Out of that mercy, justice and love, God has forgiven us our sins and will continue to do so every time we blow it. We might be fallen creatures, but God will never let us stay down. As long as we admit to the truth God will lift us up and restore us through the Christ-purchased forgiveness provided for us.
Yes, we are less than perfect. But if we are willing to live with that reality and take responsibility for our actions, then we can work towards being the best God made us to be. Knowing the truth about ourselves is half the battle; recognizing our potential and living up to God’s hopes and expectations for us is all it takes to move us from guilt to innocence.