Many of us have felt the burden of condemnation, struggling with feelings of unworthiness and a sense of never measuring up. As I reflect on my own life and career, I recall times when I compared myself to others and lived in fear of disapproval, even from God. I have lived, at times, trying to achieve approval from people and from God, which has led to thoughts of condemnation.
This experience is not unique. I have seen many friends, colleagues and patients who carry the weight of negative or condemning words spoken over them. This leaves them feeling like they've missed the mark or made an irredeemable mistake, feeling they have made a wrong turn in life's path and living with a sense of being 'not good enough'.
I have recently spoken with Christian healthcare professionals who express a sense of inadequacy in fulfilling their roles due to the mounting pressures faced by the NHS. The burden of lengthy waiting lists and increasing workload has instilled a belief that they are unable to provide the level of care they aspire to, resulting in a perceived failure to meet patient expectations. Consequently, they have been self-critical and felt condemned for these perceived shortcomings that are outside of their control.
I have learned that God understands how I feel. The gospel brings a message of hope and redemption to all - God's greatest gift is the answer to man's greatest need. Paul's letter to the Romans explains that those who are 'in Christ' are no longer condemned. God has transferred the punishment of our sins to Jesus. This means that our identity is now found in Christ and not in our achievements or failures. We are free from condemnation and can live in peace and freedom.
How we live - either the mistakes we make or noteworthy achievements we are proud of - does not change how we are seen in God's eyes. This truth is both troubling and amazing. Troubling because our achievements and successes don't earn us greater recognition in God's eyes, but amazing because nothing we do can change our destiny for eternity. Our worth, identity, and value are solely related to Jesus, not to what we do or don't do.
Practically, we must develop a mindset shift. My worth, identity and value are not related to me. If I did nothing else but quietly praised him for the rest of my life, my value would be no different and neither would my final destination.
As a doctor, I have witnessed first-hand the freedom that comes from embracing this truth. Friends and patients, who once lived with feelings of condemnation and unworthiness, are now living in freedom and joy, knowing that they are loved and accepted by God. This radical message of the gospel is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago, offering a hope and a future that we don't deserve and have not earned, but that we can embrace through faith in Jesus Christ.