Of Shame and Redemption

We’re currently in a climate where it seems each day a new public figure is being accused of sexual immorality. It’s a sad commentary on our society overall, but it also points out that the person projected to the public is often not the true image of the person whatsoever.

To a lesser degree, this rings true for the majority of us as well. Most of us have something in our past that we’re ashamed of. Or something we are currently doing in secret that if the light of day were to expose it, would bring much shame upon us. It doesn’t always have to be about something we have done or not done, but can often be about something done to us. And it’s affecting our relationship with God.

Because of things we’re holding on to, whether in the past or in the present, we carry the guilt that is associated with these acts in our daily walk. We hold up our public image in front of others, yet deep down we know God sees the real us. This shame causes us to begin to doubt our worth, our usefulness, and ultimately affects our ability to grow in God’s grace.

Unfortunately for some, this deeply held shame creates a further downward spiral when coping mechanisms such as drugs, alcohol, or other forms of addiction consume us. It isn’t long before utter hopelessness and despair rule our lives.

Recovering from my own destructive behavior taught me one thing: the secular world has no answer. Their solution is to try to make the sinful person stronger in themselves to overcome, which ultimately must fail. The true answer to ending this cycle of shame and despair can only come from allowing Jesus Christ to become stronger within us, and Scripture actually provides such an example for us to learn from.

We are put on this earth for a reason, and the God who made us wants us to be prepared to accomplish all that He has prepared for us to do, and to use our personal testimony as witness about Him to others. Unless we surrender our self to Him completely, we can never accomplish His will for our lives.

Peter provides us a perfect model of shame and redemption.

If you remember in Luke 22:31-34, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of Him before the rooster crows at dawn, to which Peter vehemently said could not happen (Mark 14:31), yet it did happen.

As one of the three inner circle of disciples, imagine the shame Peter must have felt. Here was the Cephas, the rock, the one who first declared to all that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16), and yet out of fear for his own life he is willing to deny his relationship. Certainly he felt unusable and unworthy at this point. Peter likely considered himself “damaged goods”, a feeling many of us today relate to.

But what does Jesus do?

The resurrected Jesus meets Peter and some of the other disciples on the shores of Galilee as they were fishing. Peter has returned to what he had always done well – fishing. The story of Peter’s restoration can be found in John 21. Equating Peter’s three denials of Him, Jesus asks Peter three times if He loves Him and charges him with a mission to fulfill each time (John 21: 15-19).

Our Lord never pointed his finger at Peter and told him how unworthy He was. He simply met Peter where he was and made it clear to him that he’s not unworthy, that He loves him, and that He has faith in what he can accomplish. It is the ultimate example of grace.

If you are struggling with shame, Jesus offers this same grace to you. He will meet you where you are as well and restore you completely.

And you can finally let go of the shame that has been holding you back.