Condemnation is easily seen in this situation when the law of the land declares its verdict. But at the other end of the scale is the personal condemnation humans easily inflict upon themselves. This is the core of one of life’s most debilitating attitudes. Self-condemnation leads to the loss of self-esteem and a sense of personal worth to the point that it effects our own experience and behaviour.
The spiritual and psychological aspect of such condemnation is the way such judgements infiltrate our mind and become so deeply ingrained in our psyche that over time our human experience is badly reduced.
As counselling psychologists deal with people and their struggles in life, one approach is to reflect upon, what they speak of as the script one lives by. Regularly people live with a negative script that plays out in the circumstances of their life. What is meant by that is that over the years of upbringing as we battle with experiences of failure we develop a conversation with ourselves that becomes a critical message that our mind automatically replays over and over again. Commonly the subtle thought messages might suggest we are not good enough and consequently erode any degree of self-belief.
THE COUNTER ATTACK
Of course there is much we do to counter balance this negativity and we spend a great deal of time searching for pleasure, success or achievement. But the effectiveness of these attempts to dispel the negativity are very limited. The reason for this is that such efforts are only partial. They tell us we are good at some things but not others. We will not let go of the negative disposition because it has been consolidated over the years.
Why the gospel is referred to as good news is clearly stated in our gospel today…
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.’
A not infrequently asked question is ‘what are we being saved from’. I will sum this up by saying it is being saved from the loss of value and ones place in life. We are an essential fragment of creations tapestry. What Jesus offers is a wholistic solution that transforms the totality of our soul. Being the image of the invisible God as Paul points out in Colossians, Jesus reveals the totality of being. He came not to condemn us for our imperfection but to emphasise the value of our authentic self, irrespective of how damaged we have become through life’s journey. And he does this by inviting us to make him the focus of our life.
AS THE SERPENT WAS RAISED
The gospel emphasizes this in recalling the image of Moses leading the Israelites through the wilderness. When attacked by a plague of snakes, the divine instruction to Moses was to raise a golden snake on a pole and gaze upon it. It was an image of life to divert them from focusing upon the partial fears they harboured. The gospel recalls this image and presents the similar image of Jesus being raised upon the pole in the form of a cross for us to gaze upon as an archetypal or wholistic source of humanities life force and love.
As we have said, he is the image of God and we become what we aspire to.
Through the week much attention has focused upon the young man who dropped out of school and left Australia before blowing himself up as a suicide bomber. He is a fairly obvious example of someone whose life robbed him of personal worth and self esteem.
He sought a very distorted pathway forward that was a very narrow fragmented and ultimately limited solution. It appeared to him as a pathway to meaning, and so meant he was condemning himself to failure… to destruction. The catch is energized by self condemnation countless follow a less dramatic path with a subtle downward slope which ultimately leads to similar forms of diminished life.
Jesus did not come to condemn us for our imperfection, but rather that we may have life and have it in abundance. His pathway is broad and wholistic. It takes all things into consideration that nothing be lost. This path calls us to lift up our mind to ponder his image on the cross. Eventually we see the light shine through its darkness and resurrection appears. Is not this the way of salvation