Written by Wesley Franson / March 2016
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” – Romans 1:16
When is the last time you felt shame? The kind that makes you want to get into bed and just pull the covers over your head for 24 hours or gives you that rock in your stomach which has absolutely nothing to do with what you ate.
Shame is a powerful emotion. It can hit you when you find yourself doing something that you know you shouldn’t be a part of. It also hits you when you aren’t being diligent in the duties you should be performing. It’s a double-edged sword. And a sword it is; one that can cut deeper than most.
The life of a sinful Christian is filled with occasions where shame lays on the heart like a load of bricks. Occasions like these, when we refused to “let our light shine before men that they may see our good works” because it would have been embarrassing, produce fruits of shame instead of faith.
Paul felt this shame when he wrote, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief…. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”(I Tim 1:13,15) Paul, a hero of the faith, felt his sin weighing on him to a degree that he claimed himself a chief of sinners.
The disease of sin, whose symptom is shame, has a beautifully simple remedy. Immerse yourself in God.
Most of us have all heard the account of Peter denying Jesus three times, so many times the story is a little numb to us. But think about it. Peter denied knowing the Man he had been with and followed for three years. The Man that Peter had just proclaimed was “The Christ, the Son of the Living God.” He abandoned everything he believed out of fear and shame. When Peter realized his sin, after looking on Jesus, he wept bitterly. This is where we stop the “Peter denies Jesus three times story.”
But it doesn’t stop there. In the next twelve hours, the Best Friend who was betrayed by Peter gave up His life for the very sin that Peter just committed. Wow! Think about that for a second. Humans don’t forgive that way, that fast. But God does, and thank God he does! That is a love that we as Christians need to try to emulate, to reflect in our daily lives with everybody we interact with!
Realizing our falters is only the first step. When a doctor finds a disease, a treatment plan is developed. These can be intensive and complicated depending on the complexity of the disease. The disease of sin, whose symptom is shame, has a beautifully simple remedy. Immerse yourself in God.
Embarrassment and guilt are powerful emotions to have, but don’t tend to be highly effective. Passion is effective. To be the light of the world, as young Christians, we must constantly fan the flame of our faith to create and intensify our passion for the Lord. Passion is powerful.
Side-note: It’s kind of interesting that we use the word passion in a different way when speaking religiously. We use it to describe Jesus’ suffering and death on Good Friday. How fitting! Just another way for us to be reminded the origin of our passion for Christ, Christ’s passion.
God does even more for us, He gives us the means by which we can coax our passion into a roaring bonfire. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Romans 5:20 says, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” God’s grace is always sufficient and bountiful enough that no sin, we learn along with Paul and Peter, is large enough or heinous enough to cover it. How can we be anything but amazed and thankful through every second of the day!
Immersing yourself in the Word, being surrounded by a Christian support group, and praying incessantly are necessities for keeping our light bright. To be the Witness God desires and deserves, we can’t rely on ourselves but become reliant on Him through the Word and prayer.
May the God of beautiful grace and mercy bring us from the darkness of sin and shame to the radiance of His forgiveness.