There is a particular memory that, when I revisit it, I can *feel* the shame all over again. Standing in the dance class, my teacher was angry at us because we didn’t know the choreography and the recital was just around the corner. I knew I hadn’t been practicing at home. I knew I had let her down. And, my body responded in fear, in shame.
While not knowing a dance routine seems a silly thing now, it was huge when I was ten years old and I knew I had disappointed my teacher. I had enough sense to realize that she was my authority and I had not listened to her instructions so I could be prepared for the recital. The result was shame.
When we are in situations that produce shame there are a variety of ways that we can respond. Some knee-jerk reactions might include anger, fear, embarrassment, blame-shifting, covering-up. All of these responses were clear in the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. After sinning, Adam and Eve knew they were naked.
I mean, imagine you are standing in the middle of your workplace, or college classroom, or church naked. How embarrassing! This is the stuff nightmares are made of, in my opinion. Adam and Eve knew that this was shameful and so they tried to cover up. When discovered by God, Adam shifted the blame to Eve. Fear marked their responses. They couldn’t get rid of this shame on their own. They needed God’s help.
We’re not that much different. These are our reactions too when shame is doing its work. But, as our world becomes less grounded in Truth, as it rejects God and His word, the very thing that reveals our great need for God is the very thing we are rejecting: shame.
Recently a young woman on a reality television show angrily told her co-star that she was tired of being “slut-shamed”. This is an actual term. After glorying in her sexual escapades to all of her listening audience, she was really upset that this guy had the audacity to say she was wrong in having sex outside of marriage…a lot…all while claiming to be a Christian.
Instead of being convicted by the Holy Spirit, she turned the anger back onto the messenger and gloried in her shame. This is to be expected in many ways among those who don’t know Jesus and reject Him. Where this is most concerning to me is that this is happening among those who are in the church.
Whether it is like this young woman, who wants to chase after her lusts, or whether it’s those within the church demanding they be allowed to identify as homosexual or same-sex attracted (as opposed to identifying as Christ’s), shame is being rejected so there is no need to go to God for His cleansing. Identifying with that which should be causing us shame (our sin) is like standing naked in front of all to see and glorying in it.
And it’s just shameful.
“Do not fear for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame. For you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.”
There is a time when our shame from sin will be wiped away, completely removed. It will no longer disgrace us and we will actually forget it! But, this won’t happen with any of our doing. We can’t point the finger elsewhere, or re-define what is right and what is wrong. We must surrender our shame to the One who can completely cover it.
Just as there needed to be a sacrifice to cover Adam and Eve fully (Genesis 3:21), we too must be covered through sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus covers our shame when we trust in His work on our behalf; our sins are completely washed away, forgotten, because of His cleansing blood.
There is no shame, no condemnation, for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit! Praise God!