Shame is an experience of personal humiliation, a painful emotion provoked by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace. It comes upon us in various ways. We’ve all lived it.
We do something we shouldn’t have done. Our guilt pins us down. When our shame is wrapped up in remorse, it becomes repentance, a turning and going the other way. This harnessing of shame for transformation is a powerful tool in God’s hands.
When we are publicly humiliated, we feel the sting of disgrace. The blush of shame washes over us when we’re mocked by another, when they lash us with hot, angry words or diminish us in some way, treating us as less than regal creatures made in the image of God. We feel worthless.
Embarrassment and humiliation occur when our naked selves are exposed. Perhaps we have an illness or condition that produces incontinence. Dealing with that malady produces some of the most humiliating and undignified experiences of our lives.
Maybe we engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage, perhaps with many partners. Each has seen our nakedness. Perhaps we bear an incurable STD as a result. Once we’ve given our lives to Christ and have turned from this type of behavior, we know we are forgiven, yet the fact remains that our nakedness was seen. We bear the mark. Our bodies are in the mind’s eye of another.
Perhaps we have been raped, molested, sexually assaulted, or aborted. Our nakedness has been exposed in a violent way, a way we wish had never occurred, shaping the rest of our days.
To redeem us, when Jesus hung on the cross he took on all our shame—every experience, absorbing what we feel and suffer that we might be relieved of the indignity and scars of disgrace. Therefore, we fasten our eyes upon him and cling to him.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1b-3 NIV).
Our consideration of him involves comprehending his emotions about his crucifixion. Jesus was crucified naked, not neatly wrapped as he is depicted. He was bound and beaten and exposed. Physically, this personal shame was something he scorned and despised. Yet he endured it for us. In it, he felt the same disgrace we feel at our exposure and humiliation at the hands of others. He experienced the sting of embarrassment and the blush of shame.
As he hung there, he bore all our sinful nastiness, experiencing it as a fellow sufferer. The weight of our transgressions and wounded humanity separated him from God, pressing down upon him as he took God’s wrath in our place.
Yet, he carried our sins and wounds as if they were his own, and he redeemed us in them.
He was the author and architect of this plan to save us from ourselves. From before time, he knew we would sin and he would save us. Personally, taking sin upon himself was so painful that he sweat drops of blood the night before as he considered it.
Yet, for the joy of gaining us, he endured it. He loved us so much, he was willing to do anything to save us—even experience our shame. He stayed on that cross. He died his disgraceful death. He resurrected and now sits at the Father’s right hand.
Because of this, we have hope. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can walk away from our shame and turn to him, the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. He is tender, having experienced all we have and having loved us in it still.
Considering him—his love, his mercy, his camaraderie with us in our shame, we do not lose heart. Each time we remember how he clothed himself in our sins, suffering humiliation to do so, our love for him grows as we more tightly identify with him.
He himself is our cure and our healing.
How do you fix your eyes on him and allow him to transform and heal your shame?
All images that are not depictions of Christ or the cross: FreeDigitalPhotos.net