Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Cone of Shame

What do we do with our shame?

What do we do with our painful and humiliating sense of sinfulness?

Shame is awful.  It's a trap from which there is no good escape... except one thing: full-blooded redemption.

Genesis chapters 1, 2, & 3 are absolutely foundational to our understanding of absolutely everything—God, our very own selves, our relationships with others, and this whole wide world.  Here's the story, applied to this discomforting consciousness of wrong within ourselves...

In the beginning (Genesis 1&2) everything was "good."  Even "very good."

This sheer goodness is memorably described this way: "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (2.25).

But then in Genesis 3 something horrible happens.  It's something that we (humanity) did, and we did it intentionally, and now there's categorically nothing we can do to "undo" it.

And from this terrible thing that we did proceeds everything that is corrupt in this world: sin, devastation, disease, alienation, disaster, ruination, sorrow, death, suffering, fear, guilt, shame, etc.

Consequently, the man and his wife mentioned above quickly transition from naked and unashamed to naked and ashamed.  They blame the other person, they hide from God, they make futile efforts to cover up their sin and shame, they deny all responsibility... it's all the same weak-sauce stuff we still do today.  We are their children, after all.

But then something as unexpected as it is amazing happens.

God covers up their shame.

After making the first announcement (in Genesis 3.15) of the One who would one day appear to redeem them from this huge mess they've made, we read that "the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them" (3.21).

Think about that.  God Himself covered their shame.  And he did so through the death of the animals that provided those skins.

...the death of another to cover human shame...

That is the foundation of the whole Old Testament sacrificial system.  That is the seed of the substitutionary atonement that we read about in the New Testament.  That is the Bible's first hint of how God would ultimately free us from our sin and shame by taking it all upon Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.  

Jesus is the Ultimate Substitute whose death covers our shame.  "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5.21).

Got shame?

I do.  So do you.  Take it all to Christ, that you might find refuge in him.

We'll never, ever be good enough to cover over our shame.  We'll never, ever be successful enough to cover over our shame.  We'll never, ever be disciplined enough to cover over our shame.  We'll never, ever be sorry enough or spiritual enough or knowledgeable enough or committed enough.

Only God can cover the shame of sin.

And he does so through Jesus Christ.

"To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame."  Psalm 22

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