Comfort My People

The incredible truth of the gospel is that Jesus not only bore our guilt, but He also endured our shame (Heb. 12:2).

People are filled with shame for what has been done to them and for what they have done. They’re hiding, hoping that others won’t see them. They might hide in reclusiveness, but are just as likely to hide in perfectionism, success, activism, or even brazenness. But like Adam and Eve, who after the fall tried to hide their shame with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7), our strategies don’t work because the shame remains. No matter how well we cover it, we know it’s still there.

 

Because shame is always hiding, it often catches us by surprise. An unbeliever had been attending my church for several months. Always professionally dressed and well spoken, he often thanked me for my sermons. But nothing in our previous interactions prepared me or his visit to my office.

In the previous Sunday’s sermon, I’d considered David’s humiliating flight from Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 15. I observed that not only was David learning to trust God through his humiliation, but he was also pointing to Jesus Christ. Like David, Jesus left Jerusalem humiliated. Every scrap of dignity was stripped away, not as He fled, but as He died on the cross, naked and shamed. But unlike David’s, Jesus’ humiliation was not the result of His sin, but ours. The incredible truth of the gospel is that Jesus not only bore our guilt, but He also endured our shame (Heb. 12:2).

This struck a chord in my visitor’s heart. For decades, he had carried an inescapable sense of shame. As an immigrant, he had been educated in schools that taught him to be embarrassed of who he was. And though he’d grown up to become an advocate for his people, he could not escape the shame he felt. As we talked, his shame attached to things he’d done as well as to his ethnicity, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not escape it. He knew the teachers had been wrong about his culture. He also knew that he was right to feel ashamed.

Our churches are filled with people like this man. People filled with shame for what has been done to them and for what they have done. They’re hiding, hoping that others won’t see them. They might hide in reclusiveness, but are just as likely to hide in perfectionism, success, activism, or even brazenness. But like Adam and Eve, who after the fall tried to hide their shame with fig leaves (Gen. 3:7), our strategies don’t work because the shame remains. No matter how well we cover it, we know it’s still there.

So how can the local church help comfort and heal those who are hiding, covered in their shame?

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