No Shame in That
Version 6 of the WAW (Who Are We?) story
In this version we see ourselves in Christ as honorable finishers, having the stamina and courage to keep going through anything
Draft by Stan Nussbaum
Adjust as needed for your situation
If the Bible is right, we humans didn’t start as uncivilized, pathetic cave men and women. We started with more honor than we have now. Look at the picture the Bible paints in Genesis 1 and 2. God honors the first human beings by giving them control over the rest of his creatures. He honors them by preparing a garden spot fit for a king and queen to live in, and it is virus-free. He even honors them with daily visits.
How do they respond? They disgrace themselves by eating from the one and only tree that God declared off limits! God expels them from the garden, and they live under his curse. Over the centuries, life deteriorates into a shameful mess of corruption, violence, drunkenness, arrogance, and racism. Human technology evolves, but human honorability doesn’t.
But that curse is not God’s last word to humans. He takes a blessing to an old man called Abraham who is suffering one of the biggest disgraces of ancient times—a barren wife. He promises the couple that their descendants will be enough to bless every family on earth. And it comes true! Miraculously they have a son, and that son has a son who has twelve sons, each the patriarch of a clan in a whole tribe.
Later when God makes his link with Abraham’s tribe official through Moses, his top demand is that they honor him and only him. Sometimes they do, but they keep disgracing themselves, worshiping other gods in spite of God’s warnings through his prophets. Finally God lets their enemies take them away to live in shame as a captive people for 70 years.
When they return, they try to recover their honor, rebuild their capital and their Temple. They keep hoping that God will send a special ruler to restore the nation’s honor as the prophets predicted, but 400 years go by with no sign of him.
Then Jesus arrives and it sounds like he might be the one. He proclaims that God’s reign on earth is beginning, and he says what every would-be messiah says, “Trust me! Follow me!” He heals people, he trains his followers, and he treats even despised people honorably, but he also exposes the shameful hypocrisy of the powerful leaders of his tribe.
Finally in the Garden of Gethsemane, he faces the crisis of his life. He prays that he will not be killed by his enemies who want to put a stop to all his work, but in the end he says to God his Father, “I am going to honor you by doing this your way, not mine.”
What happens next is awful. Jesus is betrayed, abandoned, condemned, beaten savagely, then nailed naked to a stake and left to die slowly in public as his enemies taunt him. But as he accepts the disgrace, he shows us what it means to finish life honorably! As a willing human sacrifice, he regains for the whole human race the honor that we lost in the beginning.
Two days after his burial, God the Father honors the trust of his disgraced Son by bringing him back to life. Jesus secretly meets his stunned followers, but he does not shame them. Instead he tells them that they will carry his mission on as soon as one more thing happens. They are to wait for it.
Then God the Father takes him up to heaven to take his throne, and they wait. Ten days later he sends his Holy Spirit down to live in them, empowering them to tell the world of his resurrection and his mercy. They face the shame of arrest, beating, jail, and even execution, but nothing can stop them. To them, being shamed for Jesus’ sake is not shame. It’s a badge of honor!
Jesus empowers his movement to keep growing. It is still growing today in spite of the fierce opposition that Jesus predicted, and it will keep growing until the set day when he comes back to bestow honors on his ambassadors. The persecutors will be ashamed that they ever lifted a finger against them.
Who are we? We are honorable finishers. Jesus’ Spirit in us gives us Jesus’ backbone. Shame does not slow us down. Disruption of our plans does not stop our witness.
And that’s why we live the way we live and tell this story no matter whether people love it or hate it. It’s our story. We live by it, and we are prepared to be “shamed” and to die by it. Jesus did, and look how that turned out!
Reflections on the meaning of the story, "No Shame in That"
If you have already said, “I’m in! SYNC me!” Jesus has already put his Spirit into you. Now you have what it takes to finish well and honorably. So let’s get the party started, celebrating with a huge “Yes” to all five of these things:
1. Yes, God can be trusted 100% of the time to take people like Abraham and Jesus from shame to honor as they show him respect by trusting him and doing things his way.
2. Yes, God’s whole plan revolves around the heroic courage and grit of Jesus to face the shame of execution on a cross. He calls us to trust him as sacrificially as he trusted God, his Father.
3. Yes, Jesus has put his Spirit into me to overpower my fears and give me the strength it takes to trust God no matter who tries to shame me.
4. Yes, I am going on a dangerous mission—showing mercy to everybody for everything like Jesus has shown mercy to me, and trusting God to honor me even if others despise me.
5. Yes, I will trust Jesus and his Spirit to give me whatever it takes to endure shameful and unfair attacks as unflinchingly as Jesus did.
If you have not yet said, “I’m in! SYNC me!” what else would you like to discuss before you would say “yes” to these things?
Jesus won’t force you in, but once you say yes, he brings you in. He shows you what your God-given mission in life is, and he gives you what it takes to stick with it. His Spirit moves into your life and you become a worthy spiritual descendant of Abraham, the father of trust.
That is what the rest of your life will be about—finding out what Jesus meant when he said, “Trust me! Follow me!” You won’t get to focus on protecting yourself from human shame anymore, but you will live more courageously and honorably than you ever could have lived on your own, and no matter what comes, you will have the peace God gives to those he honors. There is no shame in that.