From an early age we come to understand two “truths” about life that are reinforced into adulthood. The first is that we are not totally responsible for the problems in our lives. As children we are quick to point the finger elsewhere when something goes wrong, even if the facts point in our direction. We are quick to defend ourselves, not only by explaining our actions but also by highlighting the faults of others. Early on we understand the weight of responsibility and guilt, and we learn to avoid carrying it at all costs through dishonesty and denial.
The second is that, when the facts weigh heavily in the direction of our own guilt, we can bargain our way out of punishment or consequence. While admitting guilt is far too painful to even consider, the next best thing is to shower the accuser or injured party with gifts, praise, or attention, in an attempt to redirect and distract them. Our view of the guilt and forgiveness process is so shamefully simplified that we see the bargaining approach as not only a viable option, but often as the most logical response. The absence of guilt after transgression displays a complete lack of respect toward the offended party, reducing them to objects, not actual people.
For many, God is simply an object. God is an idea, a concept, or a creation. Viewing God this way makes it far too easy to evade our own guilt by trying to “buy” him off with church attendance, tithes or prayers of confession. If he is an object, we will never find any reason in our stubborn hearts to ever feel remorse for our transgressions, remorse that could lead us to the repentance necessary to be forgiven and free. If, however, he is not an object to manipulate, we will finally confront our own hand in our problems, an acknowledgement that acts as a jumping off point for growth and change. If he is not an object, we will realize that we can never buy our way out of our transgressions, and more importantly, we will begin to understand and finally value his forgiveness, as it should be understood.