'For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord….'

Shame reduction…

I listened to a very interesting (poor choice of word….) radio discussion the other week about a chap (formerly 32 stone in weight, now down to 25 stone) who had opted for radical stomach surgery in an effort to combat obesity.

Along with his weight reduction (physical) he was also having to deal with shame (emotional).  How to reduce it, that is.  He couldn’t completely remove it himself, so ‘reduction’ was worth a try.

In our Western world we don’t ‘do’ shame…….. not like the African or Asian cultures.  Why?  Arrogance?  Issues of shame remain untouched by our modern cover-up jobs.  In our pride we call it ‘low self-esteem’.

The bible is huge on this issue, right from the start…….. ‘They were naked and without shame…’   A few verses later they are ‘covered’ with shame.

Low self-esteem is the modern language for it, because our culture cannot stomach (no pun intended) the word and its appalling connotations.

Someone once said that ‘the Gospel is like a medicine cabinet for every ill’ (flawed, like every analogy) and that must include shame.  We will all ask at one time or another, ‘What do I do with my shame?’   It’s a big question.  Being exposed, shown to be unclean (outcast, rejected etc.) is our fear.  The gospel not only forgives, it cleanses.

Weakness is also the bible language for shame.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ‘I boast in my weaknesses’ (no human would do that naturally), because he knew that Jesus (at the cross) exchanged it for strength.  Quite an exchange!

When you see the bible theme of shame more vividly, it will deepen your appreciation of the gospel.  Our culture is great at spotting it, calling it low self-esteem and attempting to ‘reduce’ it, but removing it?  Clueless.

In his first bible letter, Peter writes to those suffering Christians (the dregs of society, outcasts).  He reminds them that depsite their position, everything gets righted at the cross of Christ, the most shameful moment in human history.  He then goes on to remind them who they now are.  ‘A chosen people, royal priesthood….received mercy’.

Allow the gospel (Jesus taking our shame) to not just reduce but wipe away all shame. Only Jesus can do that.

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