Empathy-based guilt, often nonpathogenic, is a necessary ingredient in many social situations; for example, guilt is the driver in forgiveness. ~ Lynn E. O’Connor
What has any of those words to do with “forgiveness” as I tend to think about along with experience it? A lot of forgiveness, as I’ve known it, both interior to myself and in the hands of people around me fits too well with Dr. O’Connor’s point. How often has your sense of guilt been the only motivation to seek or give forgiveness?
I have known too often my responses to personal guilt prompt in me into pretending that I’ve done no wrong. My fabricating being the one who was right rather than owning the guilt I know puts me in the company of the rest of the human population. No one perfectly takes hold of their guilt and own their fault.
On the other hand there are those who feel guilt for no valid reason. Those people are marvelous decoys for the rest of us to hide behind. Another powerful tool for distracting attention from ourselves is casting the need to ask for forgiveness on those who rightly or wrongly must ask for our forgiveness. It is a power play which we have all done, in one way or another.
Now, to what degree are our approaches to Jesus built for and powered by guilt?
Is our drive to ask forgiveness of Him solely to distract our attention from guilt? Are we convinced that our senses of guilt can never be uprooted? So then, is the only reason we approach God to be relieved of guilt?