You know the feeling – your eyes cannot look up to meet those of your accuser. Suddenly, you’re not quite sure if it’s possible to feel more sick to your stomach than you presently do. And it’s not because you ate Taco Bell’s “fourthmeal”. Your eyes stare blankly at the ground and your shoulders slump because you’re experiencing the weight of shame.
Have you ever “shamed” anyone? Have you ever been told that you should “be ashamed of yourself”? If your answer is “yes” to both of those questions, then you’re probably human. So that’s good – at least you’re not an alien!
Perhaps you’ve been a parent who has discovered a darker, more sinful side of one of your children and you’ve told them they should “be ashamed of themselves”. Maybe you’re a church-member and you’ve shunned other churches from your social-life because their ideals don’t line up perfectly with yours. And maybe you’re the one that’s been shamed – you’ve taken “the walk of shame” home after a frat-party gone wrong, or someone’s discovered your substance-abuse and made you feel like a failure for it. Because you smoked weed a time or two, you’re no longer useful to the world.
Well, I’m here to tell you that shame is a liar and one of satan’s greatest threats to the Kingdom of God. Because if he can cripple the Children of God with shame, then he can steal their Hope by making them believe in a false identity. With the church crippled by their shame, how can they possible fight for the restoration of other souls?
As long as you’re still breathing, there is still hope. Jesus has not closed Himself off from you – He came to save the world, not to condemn (or shame) it (John 3:17).
You should NOT be ashamed.
If you read the Bible cover-to-cover, you will see that the sexually-immoral, substance-abusers (narcotics, alcohol, etc.), murderers, and distinctly evil people came to fall at Jesus’ feet. And each time they did – what did He do? Did He send them away and exile them? No – He began the process of healing them, and welcomed them Home.
When was the last time you saw a troubled-individual on the side of the road (drug-addict, homeless person, a man/woman that decided not to keep their child) and felt compassion for them, rather than disgust? I regretfully admit that compassion is not always the easiest of heart-states for me to enter into. Often, a vengeful resentment toward the way they’ve hurt others enters my heart first. Yet, as I read Scripture, I see hundred of years of compassion before God ever takes wrathful steps toward justice.
God doesn’t invoke shame’s exile upon us, so why would we do so to our hurting brothers and sisters? Learn from Jesus – take the nails (of other’s strife) and love despite – love unconditionally.
Shame has a way of isolating. It sends broken people away. Would a doctor turn away a sick patient? (I hope not!) Shame isolates and quietly poisons the human heart. Before long, the accuser’s “you’re worthless” becomes the individual’s identity – “I am worthless”.
“You are” becomes “I am…” And “I am” statements have a great deal of power. With words, God created the universe. Simply by speaking, He breathed life. Throughout Scripture, you see the LORD changing individuals’ identities for the better. Saul became Paul, Abram became Abraham, widows became loved, orphans became children, impoverished became rich in Spirit, and the downtrodden discovered joy.
You are not useless. You are not a failure. You are not yet beyond saving.
Enter in God’s embrace and believe that you are His child. He will not abandon or shame you, as you earthly parents may have at one point or another. He will not leave, nor forsake you. He will give you good gifts and bless you with them as your heart matures and you can handle it. Like a loving Husband, He knows His Bride (the church – you and me) better than anyone else – when we can handle more responsibility and power and when we cannot.
Shame has no place in our hearts. It’s time to exile shame, rather than allowing it to exile us.
If His mercies are new each morning, then dwelling on the sinful you of yesterday doesn’t quite make sense if today’s you is cloaked in Him.
Want to change the world? Do so one heart at a time – by loving others the way Christ has graciously loved us, time and time again. Forgiveness and an active, unashamed, love are our greatest weapons in the spiritual-war on shame.
Jesus has welcomed me Home, and now I’m welcoming you.
It’s time to welcome the others.