I recently came out of prison and am trying to rebuild my life, even though I am finding it difficult. My family are well-meaning; they are Christian and supportive, and encouraging me to go back to church. I know that this would be good for me, but the guilt and shame I feel is preventing me from going back. I was a youth leader, and had lots of people looking up to me but, due to my lack of character and bad company, I got led astray, hence my time in jail. I want to recommit my life to God, but am frightened of how the church will respond. What should I do?
Esther Fenty Replies
Firstly, recommit your life to God and then worry about the church. Any violation of God’s laws usually brings feelings of guilt and shame. The trick of our enemy is to keep us feeling that way when, in fact, Jesus offers forgiveness and, consequently, freedom from guilt and shame.
I do not pretend that it will be easy to walk back into church, but if the members are truly spiritual, they will restore and not judge you. Maybe they have been praying for you and, like the father of the prodigal son, are longing eagerly for your return. If they are not, maybe God will lead you to somewhere else where you will be welcomed.
As you recommit your life to God, stand firm on His Word in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to wash away the shame and guilt. You have paid your debt to society and, if you are truly repentant, God will help you to rebuild your life – spiritually, financially, socially, etc. Surround yourself with people who can pray for and with you, and encourage your growth in the Lord.