Many Christians, myself included, have become extremely comfortable wearing our shame. For me, it’s become a sort of cozy blanket.
Think Linus from the Peanuts cartoons. Blanket in hand. Thumb in mouth.
This is how we treat our shame. Let me explain what I mean.
So many believers are limping through life because of the shame they have become comfortable carrying with them. Over time, we surrender to the false belief that we are the sin that we most enjoy. “I am lust, envy, anger, pride, sloth…” fill in the blank. After so much time struggling with the same sin, dealing with the same failures we dealt with yesterday, and after years on our knees confessing the same old trespasses, we succumb to identifying ourselves with these terrible things. We see little to no transformation in our lives. Instead of a miraculous healing, our existence feels more like a slow bleeding. We begin to doubt and ask ourselves, “Isn’t following Jesus supposed to change me?” “Is there something wrong with me?” “How can I be a Christian if I am still struggling with this sin after so many years of following Jesus?”
Once we become comfortable identifying with our sin, we lose sight of who we are in Christ. And once we lose sight of who we are in Christ, all of our relationships are thrown off kilter. It begins with our relationship with God and trickles down. Instead of running to God so we can find mercy and forgiveness, we run and hide. Much like Adam and Eve after their disobedience in the garden, we try to throw some fig leaves together to try and trick the Almighty into thinking we are worthy of His love and approval.
This false identity affects our relationships with our closest neighbors. Instead of feeling free to be who God has made us to be, we live behind poorly constructed facades in order to hide the rot underneath.
In our marriages, we begin to construct walls and barriers to keep our spouses from ever truly knowing the depth of our need for redemption and in doing so forfeit any opportunity to experience the grace we so desperately crave.
At church, we attempt to fool our brothers and sisters by acting like we have it all together when in reality our world is held together by duct tape and bubble gum.
On social media, we try to curate our timelines and our profiles to portray the good life. Everything is great. My life is a movie. When really our life is more like a horror film.
Our loss of identity in Christ even seeps all the way down to how we relate to ourselves. In the process of covering up our failures and trying to persuade God and others that we are worthy of love, we neglect our own souls. People ask us how we are doing and we have no idea how to answer them. We open our Bibles, but God isn’t meeting us there. Our prayer life and our worship feels barren, and we slowly lose sight of why God chose to redeem us.
This is my story. And I’m willing to bet that this might be yours too.
So how do we get rid of this shame that we have become so attached to? We must look to the person of Jesus.
During Jesus’ time on earth, He was most tender to those who were weighed down with shame. One of the most prominent displays of Jesus’ acute gentleness was an interaction with a young woman who was caught in the act of adultery and dragged out into the street by the religious leaders of the day for public ridicule and execution. Can you imagine the emotions of this woman? Horror. Embarrassment. Self-loathing. Terror. Shame.
But then she met Jesus.
The contrast between the Pharisees and Jesus of Nazareth could not be any more stark in this passage. While the religious elites were out looking for sinners in the act, Jesus was nourishing the spiritually starving in the temple courts. While the Pharisees were zealous for the law, Jesus was the embodiment of grace and truth. While the Pharisees were screaming condemnation, Jesus was whispering compassion to this helpless woman.
Jesus confounds the so-called “wisdom” and “righteousness” of these religious leaders and eventually they see the darkness in their own hearts. Once all the stones had been dropped and the crowd dissipated, Jesus spoke sweetly to this young woman. No one in that temple court was seeking to condemn her. Not even the Son of God.
I believe Jesus’ command to this woman has two profound meanings:
1. Jesus is calling her out of her former life of sin and into a new life of imperfect obedience.
2. Jesus is telling her that her sin has been dealt with. Forever.
When Jesus says to the woman, “Go and sin no more” He is telling her, “your sins are paid for.” And this is the same good news Jesus has for us today. Jesus paid our debt so that we could walk in freedom. So many of us continually bear the burden of our shame, because we forget that we have been set free. Confess your sin to the Lord and then go and sin no more! The solution to our shame is to cultivate a supreme confidence in the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. Jesus bore your shame on the cross, so why are you still wearing it? Jesus paid for it, so go and live your life!
Let these words from the Psalmist fill your heart and mind today.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward Those who fear Him.
As Far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12, NASB