Abandon Shame

I watched this 4-minute video this afternoon and a single thought/emotion bubbled up so powerfully in me. Using shame as a tool to try to

  • modify someone's behavior
  • change someone's thinking
  • punish somebody
  • inflate someone else's view of you
  • inflate your view of yourself

(and worst, most repulsive of all)

  • talk to somebody about Jesus

is slimy, passive-aggressive, damaging, counter-productive, and mean.  It's really low, and awful, and mean.

If you can recall a specific time when you have used shame in a relationship, no matter how long ago or how impersonal the relationship was/is, you need to apologize.  Soon.  Today.  (I'm searching my own heart and my memory for instances, for people, now.)

-Jesus did not shame the woman caught in adultery.

-He did not shame the woman at the well.

And lest we pigeonhole the use of shame to exclusively sexual behaviors, which would be totally missing the point,

- Jesus did not shame the lying, thieving, corrupt government official, tax-collector Zaccheus.  Instead he had dinner with him.

-He did not shame Peter, who after three years of following, serving, and learning from him denied him publicly, vehemently - three times. Instead he built the church on him.

-Jesus did not shame Thomas for doubting (in a situation where doubt would have been the natural response for any person with a brain).  He took him by the hand and showed him.

Jesus does not belittle people, ever.

No, Jesus sees value in people - because Jesus made people to be valuable.  He made us valuable when he created us; he reaffirmed our value when he died to save us.

As Christians, we are not to give ourselves (our bodies, our words, our attitudes, our behaviors, our interactions with others) to Satan for him to use to destroy people.  Which is exactly what we do when we shame.  We alienate people, we hurt them, we hand them a heavy load of guilt and anger and push them away to deal with it on their own.   Instead we are to use every piece of ourselves to be reconcilers, peacemakers, lavishers of grace, forces of love.  (Romans 6:13)

He gave us the "ministry of reconciliation."  We are to be the first to bend our knee.  The first to apologize.  There is no room for shame in that.

Listen to Paul's words in his letter to the Christians in Corinth:

Christ's love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.

Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

 Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.

How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.  [2 Corinthians 5:14-21, emphasis mine]

Do not allow yourself to be used for evil.  Abandon shame.

"Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." [Psalm 34:5]