We throw around the word “shame” like cheap plastic beads from a mardi gras float.
- That quarterback should be ashamed of himself.
- Is this the best you can do? You are a disgrace.
- I can’t believe you did that … you should be ashamed.
- I can’t believe I did that … I am ashamed of myself.
Professor and speaker Brené Brown differentiates guilt and shame like this:
Guilt: I DID something bad.
Shame: I AM something bad.
Brené’s TED talks on shame and vulnerability have been incredibly popular, revealing how we all, to different degrees and due to different circumstances, perform a shame-dance to a violently oppressive shame-song whose lyrics tell us that we are worthless, unlovable and isolated. Shame lobs our past at us like grenades, robbing us of our dignity, hope and future. But for all who are in Christ, Shame is a liar.
When I hear the accusing voice,
That whispers hopelessness in my ear;
When I am overwhelmed by my own sin
and tell myself that I’m a failure
When I am told by others that
that I am an utter disappointment
When my darkness is revealed to the world
and I am sure that my life is over…
I have to decide: Where I will take my shame? What will I do?
Will I go the Secular route, which tells me that I am fine just the way that I am? That there is nothing wrong with me. That my “brokenness is beautiful” and I don’t need to worry about the fact that I have causes pain to others, betrayed my Creator and broken the Image in which I have been made. This is mere ignorant, hurtful blindness that tries to convince me that I don’t need a Savior; it castrates the Gospel.
Or will I go the Religious route, which tells me that I am a disappointment to God (in fact, I probably made baby Jesus cry) and that I need to try harder, be better and never do it again. If I don’t watch out, I will either be kicked out of God’s love or, more likely, realize that I’ve never been saved in the first place.
- Secular wisdom tells us that we don’t need Jesus
- Religious wisdom tells us that we are too far from Jesus
- The Gospel tells us both, and neither: that we are infinitely far, yet have been brought all the way home because Jesus, the Son of God himself, carried our personal shame into his shame-filled trial and onto the shame-filled cross so that he could be shamelessly raised from the dead.
I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.
7 But the Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have NOT been disgraced..
Jesus didn’t only need to die for us but also needed to go through a horrifyingly shameful and disgraceful trial where he was spit on and mocked because he had to take the full brunt of shame that our sin deserved. Sin, at it’s root, is a betrayal of our Identity, of God’s Image engraved into our souls. In a state of Christlessness, shame is a very appropriate response because, like Adam and Eve, we are betrayers of the Almighty and find ourselves “naked and ashamed.”
And so Jesus needed to take on shame, pay it’s full price and replace our shame with His Glory. In Christ our Identities have been utterly transformed, even re-created. We are not longer “naked” but have been clothed with Christ:
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
And so now realize this — our IDENTITIES have been utterly renewed. There is certainly room for guilt when I am convicted by the Spirit that my behavior has been for my glory and not the Lord’s, but there is no more room for shame because I AM A CHILD OF GOD…my IDENTITY is not my behavior, but given and secured by Jesus Christ himself. The Devil (the “accuser” and the “deceiver”) will whisper in our ears that this isn’t true. He and his minions will tell us that we either don’t need Jesus or we are too far from Jesus. But he is a LIAR. We must combat these lies with the Truth of the Gospel…the greatest antidote to the disease of shame is TRUTH. We need to combat lies with what Gospel tells us…over and over again. In an effort to do this I have included below a downloadable/printable sheet with 32 proclamations of your Identity in Christ. To get you started, here’s a few:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
1 Timothy 1:7
…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control