His Grace Covers Shame: Part 1
Are you ready for some good news?
Christ not only came to bear your guilt; He also came to carry your shame.
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” (Psalm 25:1–2, ESV)
We’ve all been embarrassed, but shame is deeper.
I’ll never forget one of my most embarrassing moments. It was the evening before my first day on the job 20 years ago. I was a young minister taking on a big job as the Sr. Pastor at an historic church. Before my first day at church, I had been making contacts with key leaders and setting appointments in my leather-bound, daily calendar (long before the days of iPhones and digital calendars). To my horror and unspeakable frustration, I couldn’t find that calendar. Gone were my notes. Gone were my appointments.
Finally, in grief and frustration, I told my wife, “We need to go to the mall so I can buy a new calendar.” It was late. The mall was about to close. “Stop for nothing,” I muttered to my wife. “We have to dash to the luggage store before they close.”
As we stepped into the mall, we noticed two young ladies with clipboards who seemed to be interviewing two young men. I turned to my wife: “Whatever you do, don’t let them stop you. We have NO time for a survey or whatever they are doing.”
Much to my dismay, the ladies approached us. “No thank you, not now, in a hurry,” I grumbled in my least courteous voice.
“But sir,” one of them said, “we aren’t taking a survey. Aren’t you our new pastor? I recognize you from the photo in our bulletin last week.”
I truly considered lying “No, you must be mistaken.” Instead, I confessed that, yes, I was the new pastor.
It got worse. “Pastor Wright, this is such a privilege. We aren’t taking a survey. We've been taking a course on evangelism and we were just sharing Christ with those two young men. One of them wants to ask Jesus into his heart and we thought you might like to be the one to lead him in prayer.”
Gulp. That’s embarrassment!
But shame is deeper and more pervasive than mere embarrassment. Shame is a toxic lie that insists: You don’t measure up as you are. You need to discover what’s wrong with you, improve yourself, and perform better if you are going to be accepted and loved.
And, cruelly, shame dangles that love and acceptance in front of you like a carrot. But the carrot can never be reached leaving the soul in chronic angst.
God’s love in Christ is entirely the opposite. God loves you. Period. No strings attached. When you discover deeply what it means to be accepted in the Beloved, the awful angst of shame is healed. And that’s the Gospel!