The Seed Blog: Shameless
What comes to your mind when you hear the word, "Shame?" There is a big difference in the word shame and guilt: guilt, is something we feel over what we have done, shame, on the other hand, is who we feel we are (in our own eyes, or in the eyes of others) because of what we've done. Shame has almost become an epidemic in this society today. From social expectations of beauty and fitness to moral and political expectations of our actions and opinions, our society lives in a constant state of, "not measuring up" to the expectations of those around us. Rejection in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, has become a massive problem in our culture. It cannot be too strongly expressed, how detrimental shame can be, and how powerfully it can influence the direction of one's life.
Your opinion of yourself, and the perceived opinion of others about you, can completely affect: your confidence and motivation to communicate and socialize with others; your effort to learn and excel in various skills or jobs; your moral and social behavior overall, based upon the reputation you have acquired. We often tend to act out our perceived image, or avoid certain people, places or groups due to the image we have of ourselves. Shame can often completely alter someone's life in a crippling direction, because of their loss of self-worth, ability, and acceptance, bringing a life of loneliness, lack of motivation, and despair, and even becoming the foundation for many other sins in reaction: bitterness, faithlessness, envy, uncontrolled anger, abuse, defensiveness, sarcasm, belittling, or promiscuity.
Shame could be broken into two types: "Deserved", and "Undeserved." Meaning, there are times we have done things that deservedly bring us shame, in our own eyes and in the eyes of others; and there are times that we are shamed for things that are completely out of our control, and are completely undeserved. The main purpose of today's lesson is not to address the "undeserved shame" that we often are labeled with by ourselves and others. The shame of not measuring up in how we look, who we were born to, how skilled or smart we seem, or how our bodies compare to the current opinion of perfect, according to this world. But, I can't leave that important topic without at least saying this quickly: why do you take the opinion of a selfish, ever-changing, ugly, cruel, insecure, improperly focused, self-serving world that is totally ignorant of what you were made to be, what you are capable of, and totally disregarding of all of the characteristics that make you exclusively and uniquely beautiful and prepared for your calling in life? Over the incredible taste, and artistry of the Creator of the Universe? The God who intimately, purposefully crafted you exactly as you are?: Isaiah 64:8 We miss so much awesomeness, and exclusivity made for us alone when we do not see the way we, and our loved ones, are designed to be totally different and special. We are not designed to be a cookie-cutter remake of what happens to be the fad in this culture or time. Look for, embrace, and rejoice in the details of your individual beauty and design given by God Himself (stop changing, stop doubting). You were designed to attract the person God wants in your life. You were designed in preparation for the tasks God has purposed in your life. You were designed to impact and give the impression God intended on the people around you. Trust Him and embrace that fact in joy. Jeremiah 1:4-5.
As much of a problem as undeserved shame can be, for many people, deserved shame is sometimes a thousand times more crippling. Deserved shame is the shame that we feel when we have done things that deservedly bring us humiliation, regret, or disgrace in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. Every one of us has moments that we wish desperately we could take back; moments that we hope no one ever knows about; moments that we still cringe when we remember them, years later. It has been one of Satan's most successful tools to drive us from God's Presence, since day one: Genesis 3:8. Real sin, brings real shame—deservedly. Many of us have done things that we know have caused grief, loss, and pain to others—accidentally or even on purpose. These things have left us scarred, and feeling unworthy or inferior by society, by our peers, by our families, by ourselves. How many lives, are lived in a private torment because of the anger, depression, shame, envy, and regrets over mistakes in our lives? How many lives have stopped, or been put on hold, because of the hopelessness of an identity built around shame? So, what do you do about these overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and shame? Christians tell you, “Just let it all go and don't think about it ever again.” But you still feel like, “How is that fair?” “Why shouldn't I be ashamed? Why shouldn't I feel guilty?” “I've done terrible things. It would be unfair, and unjust not to feel shamed by what I've done. My loss of reputation, my shunning—all deserved. How do I get around the facts? What do I do with truth?” Let's try to understand this dilemma, by starting here: 2 Samuel 11:1-5.
Most of you know this story all too well, but you don't feel it's full impact for that very reason. You have to listen to the incredible, terrible details of this story: This is King David—the one who was so offended by those who mocked God that he slew a giant as a small boy; the one who trusted God so much that he was credited with unbelievable victories in battle; the one who was so passionate about God that he wrote the most intimate of Psalms; the one so loved of God that he was made king over all Israel—now, he has become so dispassionate over God that he sits at home in luxury as his men give their lives for HIS kingdom. And he not only has the audacity to enjoy all the pleasures that his men are missing in life, and may never have again, as they fight for him, but, he sees fit to take one of his most trusted and loyal men's wives, while the man fights for his cause. A man so loyal and fierce in combat, that he was named by David in his own small listing of his most, "mighty men" of the kingdom.
This taking of Uriah's wife is nothing short of rape, because it was not feasible to reject the king. He then tried to cover his own sin, and made this violated woman join him in the lie, by deceiving and patronizing her valiant husband. And when, because of Uriah’s own loyalty, David could not make the man go home and sleep with his wife, he had him betrayed, and deserted on the battlefield and left to die alone. Do you think that David acted in such a way that he deserves to be shamed, and shunned, by God and others? Absolutely! Yet he is the one who will become the Prince of New Jerusalem, the Heavenly City that is being prepared for us even now: Ezekiel 37:24-25. How can a Just and Righteous God allow such a thing and still be fair?
1) Because we are the ones who put a grading scale on which sins are worse than others—usually based upon our own sins. When in fact, through God's eyes, any sin purposely committed against Him has equal value of rebellion in the heart, therefore, we are all dark-hearted sinners deserving of nothing from Him.
2) Because God sees these sins as much more serious than we do in our fallen righteousness. Just because He loves us, and forgives even sins this big, does not mean that He takes them lightly—it's just the opposite. But He also loves us with a love far greater than any we can ever show for another. Therefore, He went to what seems like crazy lengths to reconcile extreme hate for sin, and extreme love for us. He is just and righteous; don't ever think less, or accuse Him of less. And that need for Justice, and all the shame and pain associated with the wrongs done had to be felt. It’s not that our shame and guilt shouldn’t be felt, it’s that, all the shame and guilt has already been imposed on Him. The pain, misery, embarrassment, rejection and isolation have all been suffered in an effort to protect us from having to experience what our own sins demand: Hebrews 12:2-3. (kataphroneo).
This text describes Jesus' feelings about the cross that He suffered. And the thing that stands out most in the pain and disgust is the shame He endured for us, in place of us. How could God let something like David's rape, manipulation, betrayal and murder go without even expecting David to live in shame the rest of his life? How could God let you get by with what you've done, and not expect you to live a life of shame and regret? Because He (Jesus) made sure that it wasn't forgotten, but instead, that every bit of it was experienced in payment. Jesus had all of His clothing taken from His body, was chained publicly to a post naked, and had His flesh torn off His bones; experiencing the worst agony possible, in a lewd and naked position before everyone He'd ever known.
Jesus was ridiculed and beaten senseless for our shame. Jesus walked through the street, still naked and mutilated, while crowds from all sides spit on His blood-matted body in disgust. Jesus was hung in the most revealing and torturous position humanly known, so He could die slowly—while everyone around Him glared at His exposed body in His most private moments of tortured death, while He shook, and gasped, and slowly passed away, just feet from the ground, while insects feasted and crawled around on His body and face, while a sign hung above His head, "King of the Jews", to mock Him further—and He experienced all of this shame so much more intensely than even we could because of His complete knowledge of the pain our sins caused, because of His pure heart and perfect love, and with all of this, He refused even the simplest offer to dull the pain and shame and a thousand times more shameful than all of this was being literally forsaken by His Father for all of the horrid things He was taking the place of on that cross. He had to become all the things that we feel shame over and feel the rejection we deserve, dying alone. This is what Hebrews 12 says that Jesus despised about the cross most; this is what Jesus prayed the Father could find a way around. You may understandably ask how God could expect us to live shamelessly after all we've done, but if we do continue to live a defeated life full of shame and condemnation, we have done Jesus a terrible wrong. After all He has done to release us from this shame and pain, so that He could look us in the eye without guilt, so that He could talk with us, walk with us, and love on us without anything in our way, we are spitting on all that He suffered for us.
You have to realize there is absolutely nothing you can do to get close to Jesus by impressing Him with your righteousness. You must get close to Him by being completely shameless and accepted, right where you are. Stop feeling undeserving because of what you've done, and stop feeling more deserving because of what you've done. Know that He does not look down on you in shame, or contempt, but that He looks at you longingly, ready to draw close, because He, Himself, has made a way for you to be bold in His Presence. Jesus did all of this, so He could simply take us back to the moment in the Garden, before it all went wrong, just to be able to walk with us again, without anything getting in the way: Genesis 3:8-11. So, after your shame was experienced by Him, and your guilt completely endured... Jesus asks you the same question: "Who told you that you were naked?" (Who has made you ashamed to walk with Him when He has covered the cost?) Please ask yourself this very powerful question: "Who would you be if you could just be you?" If you were free from the shame of your parents, friends, church, society; if you were free from the shame of what you did against Christ, and everyone else you have let down or hurt. That is the person Christ died to make you into. So who can now tell you that you should still feel naked and ashamed? Honor Him by being that person He died to make you into. Live humbly knowing it is only because He took it all, that you are guilt free and shameless. But live boldly and joyfully, in peace, knowing it HAS been taken. Live with real, pure, unashamed thanksgiving and worship for the One who did so much for you. Luke 7:44-48. Right now, some of you need to tell Him how badly you've sinned, and how ashamed you are for your mistakes (that’s where you start), then, tell Him how wonderful He is to have suffered so much to take that shame away; and then, accept that Gift. Leave your shame at the altar and love on Him as someone who knows much has been forgiven. He's waiting to walk in the evening hours with you.
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