“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” – John 20:19
Have you ever felt ashamed? I realize that’s kind of a dumb question to ask because shame is a feeling that all of us are familiar with in some form or fashion. Think back to that time when you did something you know you never should have done. Or maybe you said something that you realized too late, you never should have said. Suddenly, you learn that your words or actions have hurt someone – perhaps someone that you love. That’s when shame creeps in. For others, perhaps you haven’t lived up to expectations or you feel like you’ve been a disappointment in the choices you’ve made in life. Believe me, I know the feeling of shame that can just overwhelm every aspect of our lives.
Shame is an incredibly powerful motivator. Shame can get people to do things that we want them to do. But this is the problem. 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.
Thankfully, there’s good news for those of us in the midst of our shame. Jesus did not come to shame us –but to set us free from our sin and our shame. Jesus gave His life at the cross so that we could be set free with the gift of His forgiveness and grace. Shame can lead us to mistakenly believe that God is withholding His love from us because of our actions. The good news of the Gospel, however, is that God’s love is not about what we have done for Him; God’s love for us is grounded in what He has done for us!
The problem with a performance driven faith is that it seeks to make our good performance outweigh our shame. But our performance will always fall short in one area or another. We can never do enough good to cover our shame ourselves. But the Gospel tells us that the gift of Jesus Christ covers our shame in His mercy and grace. We are far more loved than 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. Through His perfect life and sacrificial death. Jesus 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 to live in the freedom of His forgiveness and love. Will you believe Him at His word? Will you accept the invitation to trust Him as your Savior? Look to Jesus and see the end of shame!
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor George Wright
Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia S.C.