A Guilt-free Easter in 2014

s1It’s been a while. But finally I experienced an Easter free of guilt, free of shame and free of exasperation. Such guilt-laden memories are fading fast from my mind, and they can’t go quickly enough. This Easter was a weekend of family time, both with our children and with our extended family. A family egg hunt, a family meal, a family gathering and a family photo. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Easter than as a family-centered man.

No more guilt

I remember so many Easter “celebrations” that felt like a criminal trial. The word guilt means “the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty”. Easter was typically a dreadful reminder that I had done something wrong, like killing Jesus. But not this year. I feel no guilt for doing such a thing. Jesus gave himself to death. It was not to layer humanity with guilt but to set us free from guilt. Easter should be a time of liberation from guilt, not bondage to it. If we feel guilty after this Easter weekend, then we’ve not heard the gospel Jesus preached.

No more exasperation

OMG! We’re late for a ubf meeting! So much tension, so much high-blood pressure trying to get something done for a ubf conference. Exasperation. That’s the word that best described many of my Easter times in ubf. The word means “excite the anger of, to cause irritation or annoyance to”. It’s been over 4 years since I participated in a ubf conference. I’m starting to forget all the no-sleep nights and hard work to “prepare blessings”. But no more. This year was a peaceful Easter, a wonderful conclusion of Lent. I feel happy. I feel connected to the entire Christ-following family around the world. If we are exasperated after this Easter, then we are in need of taking the time to examine Jesus’ gospel more closely.

No more shame

Shame is a “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety”. It is the feeling invoked by guilt. South Korean’s are steeped in a shame/honor society. So it’s no wonder my 24 years of ubf life instilled a deep sense of shame in me. Recently the NY Times reported this: “South Korea has had the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world for eight consecutive years” (source) Such massive shame has been like a syrupy layer of burden over my life in the past. But no more! Finally I enjoyed an Easter with no shame. If a lingering shame stays with you after this Easter, then you’ve heard a flawed gospel message that contradicts the message Jesus preached.

The cross is liberation from guilt, exasperation and shame!

So as ubf chapters attempt to celebrate Easter around the world, let’s all remember the gospel message of the glory of Jesus which removes our shame and the gospel message of the peace of God which removes our guilt. Don’t let your ubf shepherds drive a wedge of guilt, exasperation or shame into your soul. Easter is a time of liberation.


  1. namuehling

    I was going to post my typical, goofy post stating that you obviously needed to repent. But then I started thinking that your post is the fruit of repentance. It’s the turning to Jesus for everything and really accepting His sacrifice on your behalf. Happy Easter Brian and all!

  2. big bear

    Brian..I experience the same liberation with family and friends…..in UBF the rationale for Easter is to feel like crap….feel guilty for not feeding sheep, writing testimonies, and not inviting enough people to the Easter conference and feeling guilty for shunning your family and your children….after the Easter conference there is pcd…post conference depression…..Easter is a time to liberated from and free to love family, friends and the whole body of Christ….Jesus death frees us and resurection gives us eternal hope…

  3. Darren Gruett

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful Easter experience. I echo your sentiments. Me and my family also had a wonderful Easter, and for me personally, it was a time of repentance and gratitude, and coming newly to the cross and the empty tomb. In a way, I feel like Easter was the start of the new year for me, and I so look forward to what God will do in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

  4. Thanks, Brian. Welcome back! I was feeling a little bit lonely during your Lent break :-) I will be posting an article regarding my sermon on Luke 24 shortly.

    The article on the high suicide rate in S. Korea is sobering. I realize that a high honor/shame society like in parts of Asia and the Middle East has produced more shame and dishonor than honor. I know that no honor can possibly come from any man, yet when one worships the Messiah with repentance, tears, gratitude and love, honor is conferred upon us free of charge trough the triune God!

    Happy Easter to all.

  5. Glad to hear that Darren.

    I listened to the first few minutes Ben, and sounds good so far.

  6. forestsfailyou

    The Philippines was amazing. I will need to write an article. Explaining all the “aberrant” practices to my roommate, he said that he believed that our methods ought to differ from the Philippines because “Americans are different.” I think our universals ought to be universal. If we can judge a ministry by its fruit, St. Louis UBF has produced 1 disciple in 7 years, the Philippines has produced dozens upon dozens.

    • I was just about to ask you to write an article about your trip to Manila!

      Sometimes it is very difficult to get out of the box or the fish bowl that one has been in for an extended period of time.

    • Looking forward to your report, forests! Another thing that should be universal is definitions. The word “disciple” for example, desperately needs revamping. The ubf people heading toward extinction define “disciple” as “a college student who propagates, defends and justifies the ubf ideology”. Such a person is called “Shepherd X”, and I was one of those.

      The word “disciple” in Christianity however means “one who follows Jesus, learning and obeying Jesus’ teachings”. Even with all the disagreements in Christendom about how a disciple should then behave, anyone can clearly see that a “Shepherd X” identity is contradictory to Christian discipleship. That goes a long way to explain the difference you note, forests, because Philippines ubf is one of the redeemed ubf chapters who understand the Christian gospel and have fixed or removed or abandoned the ubf heritage flaws. They are no longer “raising Shepherd X” nor are they demanding members to adopt a cult-identity mask.

  7. “I was just about to ask you to write an article about your trip to Manila!” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/04/20/a-guilt-free-easter-in-2014/#comment-12961

    Ben, I will be posting forests articles starting tonight. This looks to be a 3 part series. Stay tuned.

  8. MJ Peace

    This is a very refreshing view of Easter! I like how you said, “Jesus gave himself to death.” It was a willing gift. Actually, at the Easter Conference I attended John Martin in his sermon Friday night said something along the lines of “Christ deeming us worthy to die for.” It sounds like heresy, but I think there is some truth there (We didn’t earn the grace, but Christ did freely gave himself for us). And this past Easter Conference, was one of the first ones I’ve been to where there wasn’t a message on the crucifixion with all the sound effects and details of Jesus’ death. We did have communion and it was lovely. I’m not saying that we should ignore the crucifixion, but view it as a gift, like you said. A gift is not supposed to make you feel guilty although sometimes we feel like that is the “humble” response. There were a lot of things I liked at the conference, like the positive/encouraging atmosphere. Honestly, it was tiring and I saw things that can be improved, but I have no regrets in going. HE has risen, friends:)))

    • Glad to hear that MJ!

      “A gift is not supposed to make you feel guilty although sometimes we feel like that is the “humble” response.”

      Indeed and well-said. It is the Spirit’s job to convict us (John 16:8). Our job is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).

      When I threw out my ubf-speak dictionary, I realized this and many more things. Take the word “humble” for example. Humble means “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.” Jesus was humble because he was God but considered himself nothing. In the past, when I heaped guilt upon guilt on myself, I was actually the opposite of humble, for I became a spectacle-maker, drawing attention to myself and trying to fill my need to feel important.