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Scripture of the Day:

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV)

Shame Rx:

When our expectations are based in the reality of the spiritual battle all around us, we don’t let shame condemn others but make a way for our fellow brothers and sisters to escape it.

You know the drill. The church doors are open. You should be there! And when you get there, you just don’t feel like you fit in. And what’s that? You are late? Again? And maybe your kid is screaming at the top of his lungs too. The stares all around you tell you what you are already thinking. You are not a good enough parent. You are a mess. You just can’t get your act together. Or maybe someone gossiped about you because they don’t like you or the position you hold. Shame upon shame. And this is just scratching the surface. It isn’t as if the church is to blame. Its inhabitants are not perfect, after all. But still we try to be so perfect in the church, don’t we?

Once we are saved and our outward appearance is cleaned up, we can wrongly turn to religiosity or legalism and attempt to maintain a look of perfection on the outside. We dare not expose the shame of being less than, especially as a Christian. Looking to others for affirmation can become an insidious snare, especially when it plays out at church. Church—a vessel for the grace and acceptance of Christ—can instead be a place of condemnation, when its members forget the forgiveness they were once granted.

The irony is that it is in confessing our weaknesses that we find grace and our shame is extinguished. The church has one of the greatest capacities to inflict shame and pain in our lives because we don’t expect it from that source. We naively have our rose-tinted glasses on, convincing ourselves that because everyone is a Christian at church, we will be unconditionally accepted and loved. This thinking is flawed on many levels.

First, everyone is not necessarily a Christian because they grace the doorway of a church. Christian culture can imitate true Christianity. All of our efforts to be good people are mere religion and fall short of the salvation that was freely given by the grace of God alone. Those who have accepted this free gift of salvation recognize their need to also abide in this grace. But we, too, even while saved, can still be influenced to walk after the flesh.

Second, various maturity levels within church walls affect how the church body relates to one another. Paul addressed the church at Corinth on this important message concerning the maturity of believers:

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV)

Paul was talking to the church, not the world. Walking in the Spirit makes all the difference in the world. The church is composed of sinful people who do not always know how to deal with shame. But we can recognize the maturity level of believers by the fruit in their lives and not receive the shame cast our direction by immature believers.

Third, our expectations can lead us to discouragement. When we expect acceptance and don’t get it, we revert to shame. Something must be wrong with us. Or maybe the church, meant to be a place of healing, can become a place of pain. The good news is that there is a better way.

I’ve painted a hard picture of the church here, though truly, I love the church. I love it too much not to speak up for the problems within it. Paul spoke about the same issues thousands of years ago. The church is still beautiful and called to represent Christ to a lost world.

When the church rises up and helps brothers and sisters remove the mantle of shame, rather than covering its people with shame, God can use the beautiful bride of Christ to help its members be more like Christ.

When our expectations are based in the reality of the spiritual battle all around us, we don’t let shame condemn others but make a way for our fellow brothers and sisters to escape it. When we maintain humility by seeing our perpetual need for discipleship, we put ourselves in a place to be a recipient of grace, not shame.

***This excerpt first appeared in Shame Off You***

Why live with shame when you don’t have to? God has provided a way for us to remove shame and live in victory. Come and release your shame in Jesus’ name. Shame Off You details a biblical method for removing shame and is available at many retailers. Here are a few places you can get Shame Off You. Let me know you bought Shame Off You and receive a free bonus digital download.

 

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