Shame, have you ever felt it so deep that you couldn’t bear to be present in public? John Calvin wrote; ”Only those who have learned well to be earnestly dissatisfied with themselves, and to be confounded with shame truly understand the Christian gospel.” Newton referred to himself as a wretch in his song Amazing Grace.
I guess we could say shame is an emotion familiar to the human condition. In other words, it’s pretty normal. But to simply recognize its normality is not quite what the gospel beckons us to. Shame can be humbling and that’s a good thing. My shame tells me I’m broken. The gospel tells me Jesus took my shame to the cross, for me. Naked, mocked, and disgraced for me…for us.
Christ not only bore my punishment in the gospel but also my shame. Because He bore it, we don’t have to. Living our lives in quiet desperation is not how the gospel should transform us. First Peter 1:3, “…according to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead.” We should never fail to recognize that our lives have been purchased at the greatest price possible. Our conscience betrays us when it allows us to shame our Savior. In practical terms, there’s a healthy shame that leads to repentance and an unhealthy shame that brings desperation.
Listen to the scripture in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”