The Protecting Shadow of Jesus

I read a student essay today that I wanted to share with you all.

The question was: “With which anonymous person in John 7-9 do you relate most and how does this specific story fulfill John’s purpose for writing as stated in John 20:30-31?”

A basic “reflect and let me see you get it” essay. I wasn’t expecting anything too terribly profound. Then I read this.

I hope that, when I grow up, I love Jesus half as much as this 9th grader. She chose to write about the woman caught in adultery:

“I relate to her because I’ve been caught sinning, maybe not as publicly, but I know the humiliation. I also know the feeling of Jesus’ shadow over me, protecting me and standing between me and my accuser. It doesn’t make the situation any less humiliating, but it does help me realize that I don’t need man’s approval because I have a Savior that will back me up every time.”

God has me “teaching” these kids b/c I have SO MUCH to learn from them. What a beautiful description of our Savior.

Shame Before Jesus, CCEF Session One

I. We have all been humiliated by the shame of either our sins or the sins of others.

Shame requires us to seek out covering, inclusion, cleansing. These are things we can only receive from Christ. We are drawn to the Holy One, we reach out, touch Him, and He touches us back.

Shame matures. The longer we allow shame to exist in our lives, the more it grows. We are forgiven, we know in our heads that we are, but over the years, shame of our sin (or sin committed against us) actually grows.

There are some sins we all “get.” We talk about them and everyone nods their heads in understanding. But some sins are not understood by the majority. We are shocked by them, and those people are shamed, even after being forgiven. They are identified by their sin, isolated, rejected, often for years after the events have ended.

Example: Naomi. She is shamed in every way possible in her society. Widowed, childless, landless, poor, sojourner. But by the end of the story, “Jesus is lying in her lap.” She is in the line of Christ, elevated to honor by the Holy One.

Those dealing with shame are the ones God is looking for. He seeks them out. The healing of shame requires inclusion, and Christ includes us, brings us in.

The Characteristics of Shame:
1. You are Different. Isolated.
2. You are a Failure. You don’t measure up, either to your own standards or to the standards of others.
3. You are a Fraud. Especially in the successful. “If I am found out…”
4. You are Rejected. People avoid “those people” as if we still function under the law of clean and unclean.
5. You are Violated. Someone has committed a shameful act against you and you take on that shame, internalizing it.

This is the American experience/identity. We are individuals, alone, setting out to prove ourselves, rejected when we don’t measure up to the standards of the society around us.

II. How does God reach into shame?
1. The Exposed are Covered.
God covers them with animal skins. Yes, a sacrifice. Perhaps, “If you want to behave like animals, dress like them.” Consequence of sin is shame needing to be covered, and sometimes the covering we end up with is just as shameful as the initial event.

Exodus 28: The priests are exquisitely closed n garments of dignity and honor. They wore a turban with the phrase “Holy to the Lord” inscribed on the front.

The priests represent the people, and the people know that. THEY are clothed in dignity and honor. THEY are holy to the Lord. They are slaves, freed from bondage, clothed with dignity.

2. The Outcast is Accepted.
Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden, but the are pursued by God. This pattern permeates all of Scripture.
God pursues the shamed.

God pursues exiled people.
Hosea 10: To a disgraced, exiled people, God says, “Call me ‘MY God’.”

Hosea 2:16 “My husband.” An exclusive, accepted, chosen relationship. PERSONAL pronoun.
Anyone can call your spouse by his or her name, but you are the only one who can call them “my husband” or “my wife.” There is a special love and intimacy related to personal possessive terms.

Isaiah 55: To share a meal is an intimate experience. To a shamed people, God says, “Come.

3. The Contaminated are Cleansed.

Isaiah 6: An unclean man, shamed by his sin, falls before the Lord. “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Through a seraph, an intermediator, something holy, something of God, touches Isaiah and he is made clean. The shamed man goes from “Woe is me,” to “Here am I! Send me!”

III. Guilty and Shamed by Association
In the Garden, to be associated with the serpent is to the separated from God.

Isaiah 54: What does God say to His people about shame and association? He claims the culturally shamed, a barren, single woman. God says, “Do not fear, you will not be shamed, for your Maker will be your husband.”
We are associated with God, you take on His reputation. Shame has no longer has a place in us.

IV. Conclusion

1. Guilt and Shame are paralyzers. We cannot grow and mature in Christ with guilt and shame in our lives.
2. Feel dirty, shamed, rejected? Every page of Scripture is about you. God pursues you. You belong. POSSESS HIM: “My God.”
3. For the shamed to be allowed to take on the name of an honored person is shocking. God turns to us, gives us His favor, places His name on us, calls us His own.

Musings on Guilt, Shame, and Redemption, CCEF Session Four

Notes from Ed Welch’s plenary session at the CCEF National Conference.

Shame is THE human problem. Shame for what we do. Shame for things done to us. BUT the lowly are raised up as they are associated w/ Christ.

The consequences of the cross on shame. Jesus took the humiliation and rejection of shame on the cross. FOR US. For our sin. For the consequences of the sins of others on us.

Paul gave musings on shame in his writings… “I thought I had overcome shame. Pharisee of Pharisees, but Jesus accepted ‘them’.” Jesus took the shame of “those people” and my shame was still present.

The cross was the height of shame. He wasn’t just murdered, but crucified. The royal identifies with us, and crossed boundaries into the cesspool of shame so we can identify w/ Him.

Faith is essentially saying “Help.” My life is now bound up in another.

Paul heaped shame on himself, like Christ, to relate to the shamed. When the right person absorbs shame, it loses power.

Paul expected shame from his enemies. But he received shame from his own church (2 Cor). In ministry, we can be shamed by our own. But that is also sharing in the shame of Christ who was rejected by His own.

Corinthians say, “Prove yourself.” Paul says, “I love you. Love me in return.” Unheard of apart from Christ.

When there are only 2 categories, clean & unclean, the clean can be touched by the unclean and the unclean always wins. But w/ Christ, there’s a 3rd category– HOLY. When the Holy touches the unclean, Holy wins.

Philippi was a culture of reputation. So Paul tells them of a king who empties Himself (Phil 2). Paul also emptied self (3:7). He challenges us to do the same. Become people of no reputation.

The shamed know their neediness, but usually turn inward and isolate, to cover, to hide. In Christ we can turn to Him and say “help.” He becomes our covering.

Our biography is no longer our own reputation, but our association with Christ. This is how we are to see other believers, through the glory and holiness of Christ.

As a holy one, touch the shamed, bring them in. Love them as Christ. Invite them to dinner. Hug them if needed. Be people of hope.

What about Peter? Denied Christ, knower of shame. What does he say of those in Christ? 1 Peter 2:9-10.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Be blessed, chosen ones.