Guest Blogger: Kevin Trembley
Do you have any moments in your life where, when you look back- you feel an immense amount of shame?
I can still remember moments from high school or my early working days as a manager at McDonalds where I said or did something that humiliated me. It’s amazing how a memory of something that happened a decade or more ago can still bring such fresh pain into my heart and mind- as if I have traveled back in time and am back there right in the midst of that shameful moment.
Being born and raised in a western culture- I certainly understand the idea of guilt and punishment. But I struggle with understanding shame in my life. Guilt has the idea of the conscience being convicted when we do something wrong. The solution to guilt is apologizing, confessing, and making things right. Usually after this the guilty feeling goes away and we can move on with our lives.
But shame is something completely different. The dictionary defines shame as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour”. To put it more simply,
guilt has the idea of “I did something bad”; while shame has the idea of “I myself am a bad or worthless person”.
It moves from our behaviour to our identity. It’s not just something I’ve done wrong; it’s something wrong about me. I didn’t just make a mistake; I am now a worthless person who is unworthy of love or respect because of what I’ve said or done.
The sense of being damaged beyond repair because of something in our past is so powerful and painful that it has the potential to completely paralyze and ruin us. Show me an alcoholic, a bully, or an abuser- and we’ll surely find some shame in their past.
The good news is that Jesus came to deal with our shame:
Hebrews 12:2 says that we are to be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Roman cross was an excruciating way to die. But it was designed to do much more than that. It was designed to kill you in the most shameful way possible.
Jesus, who had never sinned in His entire life; experienced shame. But something else happened on the cross- and this is where we come in.
2 Peter 2:24 says “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross…” Whose sins? OURS.
Isaiah 53:6, 700 years before Jesus is even born; tells us prophetically about this moment on the cross “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned- everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all.”
Jesus not only suffered on a Roman cross, but He bore my sin and all of the shame that goes along with it. God not only placed the sins of the world on His one and only Son; Jesus was than viewed and treated as if He had committed those sins – though He had never sinned in His entire life!
All the shame we experience when we sin and fail- HE experienced for US! I no longer need to be destroyed by my past. I no longer need to let my past define me. Those humiliating things I have done, I no longer need to hold onto!
Jesus suffered my shame, so I no longer have to. I can now let the past go, because Jesus suffered the full consequences on the cross for all my sin, rebellion, and stupidity.
Hebrews 9:14 puts it this way: “How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the Living God!”
I’ve been a Christian for 17 years, and I still struggle with shame sometimes. This is something God and I are working through. Forgiveness and freedom are available to me because of all that Jesus chose to do for me on that cross. And so, I continue in the hopes that God will continue to restore my soul and heal my heart from my many sins and varied scars I’ve received in my past.
If there is hope for a guy like me, could there be for you as well?
Kevin Trembley is a Christian, husband, father, and pastor at First Baptist Church of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba – in that order. Feel free to check out his church’s website at www.firstbaptistchurchofplap.com