[This is part of a series of sorts on topics that I am scared of because I think they are confusing and hard and complicated.]
I think we’re in danger of oversimplifying the ‘shame’ conversation.
Let me tell you my personal bent on this topic: I hate shame.
I cried when my church wanted to make me a deacon. I explained to my friends that it was too much; too much pressure and too many people expecting me to be someone that I cannot be. One of them asked me:
Fabs, do you believe you are a disgusting sinner?
Do you believe that’s who you ARE?
Do you know that’s NOT who you are in Christ?
In theory. But in deep places in my heart I feel the paralyzing power of shame. In the darkest nights, shame has made me literally want to die.
As a result of the way my story is written, I want to tell the world that shame has no place in the Gospel. My bent is to quiet my own lies by telling everyone who will listen that we must be a generation who makes the word ‘shame’ heresy in churches.
But, as I wrote yesterday – neither my passion nor my fear gets to determine what is true.
I do not get to define the Gospel based on my personal insecurities and struggles. Nor do I need to. The Gospel heals all my wounds without me needing to shift it and mold it to my specific fears.
Let me be clear:
I think I could write 1000 blogs about how every scrap of shame and guilt over repentant sin has NO PLACE in the life of a believer and still have 1000’s of words to say.
There are not caveats. There are no asterisks.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you feel guilt and shame over repentant sin, settle it in your mind: it is from Satan.
Let me also be clear:
Romans 8 is good news precisely because of Romans 1-7. No condemnation in Christ is good news because apart from Christ there is deep and real and permanent condemnation.
Saying that shame has no part in the Gospel is like saying Sin has no part in the Gospel. It is the foundation of our need for the Gospel.
Shame is two things: 1) an emotional feeling of uncleanness 2) an actual state of uncleanness.
If you are in an actual state of uncleanness the greatest gift God could give is to let you feel that you are in a state of uncleanness.
If we run around telling people who have rejected Christ that they shouldn’t feel ashamed, we are telling them to ignore symptoms of a disease more deadly than cancer. Thank God for the symptom of shame that might drive some to the Great Physician.
We cannot relieve the shame of people with blog posts and with oversimplification of the Gospel. We cannot relieve the shame of people with hugs and kindness. We cannot even relieve the shame of people by telling them about God’s love. Nothing will deliver us from guilt and shame but the blood of Jesus Christ.
Apart from Christ we cannot stand naked and unashamed. We need covering. We need Him.
May God make us a generation who submit ourselves to the glorious nuances in Scripture.
May we hold high the very real presence of shame and guilt so that we can hold higher the precious blood of Jesus that frees us from both.