Shame obsesses. Often, instead of seeing the big picture, shame focuses obsessively on one or two instances of supposed failure. I say “supposed failure” because the “thing” shame obsesses about might not even be a real failure. But if our shame-based minds feel even a smidgen of doubt about just one aspect of our performance in a relationship, conversation, work assignment, sermon, parenting role or household project, we tend to lock in on the possibility that we were less than perfect.
The overwhelming feeling that we have never been enough and never will be enough – is shame. Remember, shame isn’t simply “doing a wrong thing” [which can be forgiven] – but the deep sense that we have been “born a wrong thing” – which calls for us to literally cease to exist.
Shame. The feeling that we are somehow less than others. That no matter how hard we try, we will never be enough. That we don’t just occasionally “do” wrong things…we were born a wrong thing. When we feel shame we feel hopeless – because there’s no antidote for shame. Sin and error can be forgiven. Shame shouts that it would be better if we ceased to exist.
We love to criticize the Scribes and Pharisees. Until we see ourselves in them.
In Luke 20:45-47 Jesus is in Jerusalem, calling out the Scribes [Bible-scholar partners of the Pharisees] NOT because they weren’t trying hard to follow Torah and keep Israel focused on living for the true God – but because in their flesh and humanness, they had simply lost their way.
If we follow Jesus Christ, we’re called to live such a radically loving and sacrificial “I will die for you” lifestyle that the broken world can’t ignore us – and in fact will be drawn to us to ask us why we are the way we are. Because what they see in us makes them want what – or Who – we’ve got.
Radically loving? I’m not sure that’s the phrase most non-believing types would use to describe those of us who believe. Weird, whacked out, hypocritical, arrogant, mean, pushy, out of touch, narrow minded, racist, exclusive – these are the terms way too often attached to Jesus followers in our era. At least that has been my experience.