There is good shame and there is bad shame.
Good shame is the useful feeling we sense when we are tempted to do something we know is wrong or the feeling that makes us sad after we’ve done it.
Bad shame is guilt (remorse) in the form of condemnation or a lasting stigma for something we are or that we’ve done. It’s the one Jesus removes from our lives.
Jesus Before a Watching Cosmos
A gospel tenet explains that Jesus took the shame of our sins so we wouldn’t have to be made ashamed by our involvement with them. We often point to Jesus’ criminal death–crucifixion–and all that led up to that fateful moment. Now, allow me to scratch beneath the surface and explore this truth.
Have you ever considered that Christ bearing our shame may have far greater implications that we don’t fully comprehend in this present reality?
Lets take two noted passages. Philippians 2:6-8 explains the kenosis, Christ’s incarnation and “emptying” himself of the fullness of his divinity to live as a human. Contemplation will convey to us all that Jesus willingly laid aside for his earthly mission—his perfections, his power, the splendor and royalty…everything—to come and live as one of us.
How did this appear to the principalities and powers? I know God does as God pleases and eternally chose to identify with us; still, did the angels gasp that the Creator lived as a creature?
Colossians 2:13-15 explains that in his work to save us, the cross was just the tip of something cataclysmic taken place in the unseen realms—“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (v. 15). We know Paul isn’t referring to those who put Jesus to death.
No Place for Shame
So when I consider Jesus’ scandalous death to remove sin’s condemnation and his exchange of ineffable glory for a hard, unsophisticated earthly life, to sacrifice himself, I get real serious about how I relate to others, faithful and faithless, for whom that price was paid.
Let me make it plainer: If Jesus endured great shame, shame it’ll take Heaven to reveal, to erase condemning shame, how can I or any believer partake in heaping shame on others?
To not live with Jesus’ attitude toward others, although we may have valid disagreements with them, is to disrespect the work of Christ made on all our behalf and to exhibit pride, as though we are not cut from the same sin-stained cloth.
Jesus’ priestly work condemns our smugness, insensitivity, labels, and dehumanizing ways. We dare not append shame where Christ has removed it. Instead, we should readily relieve the oppressed, love them, and pray for them. And this isn’t about any particular sin or issue; instead, it applies to everything and everyone.
Our deepest gratitude for Christ’s work is proven when we live as he did.
Read more: Untied Laces: Fighting Guilt