Relating To The Shamed

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 

How did Jesus relate to:  1.) The Shamed?

How do I try to connect with someone who lives with crippling shame? I read the Gospels with wonder when I see that Jesus knew just what to do. He did the will of the Father by removing shame and restoring honor. “I [God] will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” Zeph.3:19 Peter, well acquainted with shame after denying Jesus, wrote  “Whoever believes in him [Jesus] will not be put to shame. So the honor is for you who believe.” I Peter 2:6-7

Jesus built bridges of honor as he related to those who were alienated by shame. He reached out to the woman of Samaria and established honor by crossing two lines of bigotry; gender bias and racial discrimination. His final act of bestowing honor was to ultimately reveal that He was the Messiah, His first public admission.

Jesus built another bridge of honor with the woman caught in adultery. Her accusers cited the Law of Moses. They wanted her stoned. Jesus was silent, curiously writing something in the dirt, giving everyone moments of personal reflection. The accusers went silent and the sound of stones hitting the ground could be heard. Ultimately, he offered the woman mercy and gave her honor that was undeserved. It was reckless mercy to the Pharisees.

Those who suffer most from shame are the ones who are scared to tell us their stories. They have probably experienced bias. They feel unclean, unworthy, and cursed. I cannot tell them about Jesus unless I treat them without prejudice. I must build a bridge of honor by extending unconditional love. This does not mean tolerance and overlooking evil. It means being like God who loves the sinner but hates their sin. The ones in shame, even undeserved shame, look for confirmations of their unworthiness in the eyes of others. (I did it for years!) And how well I know, from personal experience, that if we come preaching, attempting to fix them with scripture ~ and all with an attitude of being above them, shame is deepened and honor becomes more elusive. Legalism cements shame.

I remember today that, before salvation, I was covered in my own shame and sin. I was unworthy and yet Jesus extended mercy to me. As I see one bent over under the yoke of shame, I am humbled by the memory of my own deliverance. Tragically, the ones most bowed down with shame don’t often come through church doors. They won’t run toward those they fear will further condemn them.

So, who is near me crippled with shame? Time for me to take a step back and let go of unsuccessful methodology. I ask Jesus to give me His heart for that person. I ask Him how I should build a bridge as artfully as He did. I may not even need words. Like Jesus who sat on the edge of the well in Samaria, He just showed up and began a conversation about life, not religion. Both the Samaritan woman and the woman caught in adultery – ultimately lifted their gaze to behold the love of God.

Someone near me, too scared to look at Jesus, just might get the courage if they can see His love in my eyes first. I must always build the bridge of friendship and honor strong enough to support the truth.

Honor instead of shame, Jesus. You gave it to me. Show me how to reach out to the person You’ve brought to my mind right now. Amen

New Series ~ What Would Jesus Do?

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Do you remember the old TV show called The Newlywed Game? Three sets of couples competed against each other to see who knew their spouses the best. First, all the husbands went backstage and the wives were asked questions about their men. “If your husband got bad news, he would react in what way? A, B, C, or D.” Those who scored the most points won the game.

What if we were asked to guess what Jesus might like, or how He might act? How well do we really know Him? That’s the purpose of this next series. Why is it important? Because whomever it is we know and worship, we’ll emulate. It’s instinctive. No one wants to be like someone they dislike. The better we know Jesus, the easier to stay on the path of sanctification.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin. How did Jesus relate to those who lived with shame? How did He relate to imperfect disciples?   How did He function in the relationship with His Father, or with His enemy, the devil?

What do you think will be your reaction to Jesus’ interactions with certain people? Will you love Him more, or less, or not care? And how will you and I change as a result of walking alongside Him in review?

Not ironically, this takes us to what it means to be yoked to Christ. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

I am praying for us ~ that God will open our eyes to see, believe, and worship. 

We will be astonished by You, Jesus. Warmed, convicted, inspired, perhaps even stumble. Give us grace for this journey. Amen