Have you ever felt ashamed? I realize that’s really kind of a dumb question to ask because shame is a feeling that all of us are familiar with in some form or fashion. You know, that time when you did something that you know you never should have done? Or you said something that you realized immediately you never should have said. And then it is revealed that you have hurt someone, perhaps someone that you love, and there’s the element of shame. Perhaps you have not lived up to expectations or you feel like you’ve been a disappointment and you’re not living the right way. Believe me, I know that feeling of shame can just flood into our lives.
Shame is an incredibly powerful motivator. We can get people to do things that we want them to do with shame. But this is the problem with the motivation of shame. Shame can move us to do something, but it will never capture our hearts. In fact, shame crushes our hearts. I would call it the Master Manipulating Motivator. And it’s a feeling that we want to avoid at all costs. We want to do what we can to get away from shame. And let’s be honest – sad as it is to say, the reason a lot of people stay away from church or want to keep their distance from God is because of the shame that they have felt at the hands of religious people!
Someone sees something you’ve done. They call you out, but they do it in a mean way. They belittle you and point the finger at you, making you feel so unworthy and small. Frankly, it’s the reason a lot of people really want to keep their distance from God and the church. They’ve experienced shame at the hands of religious people, and all in the name of Jesus and it has caused them to keep there distance from God and His church.
But there is good news for us in the midst of our shame! The good news is this: Jesus did not come to shame us! Jesus came to set us free from our sin and our shame! He gave his life at the cross so that we could be set free in the gift of his forgiveness and grace. Shame can lead us to mistakenly believe that God is withholding his love from us because of all that we have done that causes us to feel shame. The good news of the Gospel is that God’s love for us is not about what we have done for him! God’s love for us is grounded in what He had done for us!
The problem with a performance driven faith that seeks to earn our way to God and attempts to live in such a way were our good performance outweighs our shame is quite simply…our performance. Our performance is always falling short in one area or another. We can never do enough good to cover our shame. But the Gospel tells us that the gift of Jesus Christ covers our shame in his mercy and grace. We are far more loved that we ever thought possible. Jesus did not come to shame us in our sin. Jesus came to save us from our sin. He offers us exactly what we need in the midst of our fear and shame. His perfect life and sacrificial death provide the end of shame as He invites us to trust in what he has done to set us free!
The invitation of Jesus Christ is to rest in the grace of God and live in the freedom of his forgiveness and love. Will you believe Him at His word? Will you accept the invitation to turn from your shame and trust in the Savior? Look to Jesus and see the end of shame!
Taken from sermon preached by George Wright/Senior Pastor, Cedarcrest Church