Yesterday I preached on the issue of Shame. I used three particular passages. In Genesis 3 we see where Shame entered the world and how humans were cast out of the Garden to live a life of shame and disgrace. In Leviticus 16 we see where Shame is dealt with in regard to the Scapegoat, who is cast out into the wilderness, just like Adam and Eve. Yet, this scapegoat is not enough for us. In Isaiah 53 we see Jesus who became the Divine Scapegoat. He was cast out that we may be brought in. The Only Legitimate ShameGiver became the Only legitimate ShameBearer.
During the sermon, my daughter, Callie, drew the picture to the left that emphasizes in big letters “SHAME.” Then above the word SHAME is the phrase “He Will Give…” and underneath is the phrase “He Will Bear…” I thought it was pretty cool.
In continuing my meditations on Shame, I drew this picture after reading I Kings 19:9. Shame drives us into a cave of darkness. Our vision is distorted. Our wounds are open. We withdraw from community. Like Adam and Eve, we hide ourselves from the Lord. In this verse, we find the prophet Elijah, full of shame and fear, running from God, hiding in a cave. All his confidence has evaporated. His faith has dried up. Someone must draw him out. He is paralyzed. He cannot save himself. In the darkness, Christ kneels beside him and quietly and whispers, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
“There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
– 1 Kings 19:9
When we consider our sin, we should always contemplate its immensity. Our sin is great. Devastating. Overwhelming. In fact, our sin was so great that, in order to overcome it’s power, it took God Himself, coming in the form of a man, to die upon a Cross. Yet, that work of Christ, is not marginally greater than our sin. The Cross is infinitely greater. In order to get a sense of this, I encourage to watch the following video. Imagine our sin as the Himalayas. The massive Himalayan mountain system is the planet’s highest and largest. It is the home to the world’s two highest peaks – Mount Everest and K2. Yet, what are the Himalayas compared to the universe?
In the same fashion, what is our sin, compared to the glorious riches of God’s mercy.
Psalm 8 – O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
I had some great time with Christ reading in the Psalms this morning, especially Psalm 25 which says:
….To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
………in you I trust, O my God.
……Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
…….No one whose hope is in you
………will ever be put to shame,
…….Guard my life and rescue me;
…….do not let me be put to shame,
…………for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
……because my hope, LORD, is in you.
………….(Psalm 25:1-3, 20-21)
I am coming to realize that one of my most besetting sins is my sense of shame. It has been my constant companion since my childhood. It hides in my heart like a dark stowaway, like a hidden wayfarer, whispering lies that confound my faith in Christ. In double-minded doubt, I depart from Christ and continually employ my gifts as a way to compensate for my shame. Just like my first parents – I reach for the nearest fig leaf to cover myself in vain. But gifts are not enough. Indeed, nothing is enough. Fig leaves fall apart in even the smallest storm. A gentle brush of wind is enough to disrobe me. Yet, though the wind of shame is greater than my feeble, fig-leaf vestments, thanks be to God, it is not greater than the Cross of My Redeemer. Jesus died to cover my shame. He has given me His name. His righteousness robe cannot be removed. In Him, the darkness cannot find me; for the cross of Christ will always hide me. I know theses truths inside my head, but how quickly my heart forgets.
Lord, help us who rest in you to repent of the shame that undermines our faith.
Help us to put our trust in you.
Help us to place our hope in you. Guide our lives and rescue us.
Do not let us be put to open shame…
for we hide ourselves in you.
“Christ as our propitiation is a precious thought because it means that the wrath of God that we deserved was removed. Christ absorbed it, and took it away. He became the curse for us and took away the judgment of God. God was propitiated by God.”
– John Piper in his sermon, “The Greatest Thing in the World”
Jesus died for me. What a thought. When I meditate upon that thought, I scarce can take it in. It is almost too terrible, too wonderful, too scandalous. In the scriptures, there are two kinds of death described – physical and spiritual. Certainly, when we say that – “Jesus died for me” – we are not simply saying that Christ died a physical death in our place, for we all, like everyone who has lived before us, will die a physical death. Don’t misunderstand me. The physical death of Christ was certainly necessary, for our propitiation, but it was not enough. Continue reading
Our College Bible Fellowship finished up our study on the life of Peter this past Sunday morning. The passage we have been looking at was from John 21:1-19. There are several things in this passage that speak deeply to me. In this post, I would like to share just a few things in particular.
Trying to go back to what I think I know
” 1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”
I teach a college aged Bible Study on Sunday Mornings. Over the past several months we have been going through 1 John and as we walked through the book one thing seemed to emerge right out of the pages and dance before our very eyes…Jesus is Grace. When John speaks of Loving one Another – he is not talking about a love that can be separated from the Love of Christ. When John speaks of holiness he is not talking about a holiness that exists apart from the Holiness of Christ. When John says “Do not Sin” he is not talking about behavior modification, he is talking about the idolatry that leads us away from Christ. Christ is our Grace. There is no Grace apart from Him. John culminates this idea in 1 John 3:23 – “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
The First Command? “Believe in Jesus!” There is no other way to please God. Believe in the name of Christ! This is our righteousness. This is our Grace! And this gives us Grace upon Grace to obey the Second Command…to Love one another as He has commanded us.
Isn’t it strange that the Apostle should feel the need to command us to Believe? I think most of us assume that we believe. We think that that should be the easy part. But it isn’t. In fact, there could not be anything more difficult for us. “Believing in Jesus” really is the command that is impossible without Grace. We need Jesus, so that we might believe in Jesus. Everything else in the Christian life dances forever around this central truth. Whenever we move away from believing in Jesus, we move toward idolatry. And when we move away from Jesus, we move away from love, away from forgiving, away from grace. This is why John ends his letter with this abrupt warning…”Little Children, keep yourselves free from idols.”