We love Jesus… so why are we still dealing with these issues? In this series, we address how the gospel frees us from the shame associated with our daily sins and struggles, and then helps us overcome them.
By Randi Peck
My daughter, like many 5-year-olds, frequently rotates her preferred, future occupation. Sometimes, she wants to be a teacher. Other times, a Mommy. Still other times, an artist. But this past week, she’s been announcing to our family and friends, “When I grow up, I want to be a Helper and a Giver.”
Of course, this warms my heart. I love her sweet and generous heart. Many days, she thinks up ways to bless her friends. She gathers up toys in her room or change from her piggy bank, that she can wrap up and give away. And sometimes she even organizes my bathroom drawers and folds laundry, just because. Seriously. I have done nothing to deserve this child.
But I also notice something about her dreams and goals… something I recognize in my own outlook. My daughter has never once told me, “When I grow up, I want to be helped. I want to be taught. I want to be taken care of.”
This is not necessarily surprising. After all, we were made in the image of God. We were designed to pour out and give back to God, and his children. We all envision our future selves as creators, contributors, and inspirers.
But something happened, as we’re all familiar with the story, after Adam and Eve were created in God’s image: The Fall. We were broken. Both inherently (we are now born with a sin nature) and by our own fault (if we had been Eve, we too would have disobeyed God).
This is why Adam and Eve hid. And this is why we hide. There’s something wrong with us. And we know it.
This is why ALL of us—my sweet girl and my self—need to grow up, not just into helpers and givers, but into humble recipients of God’s help.
Where does God send his ashamed, fig-laden children to get help? God has chosen the Church to be our place of restoration. The Body was designed to shepherd away our sin and shame.
When we gather, there is power… The struggling are strengthened, the suffering are comforted, and the immature “grow up in every way”. (Eph 4:15)
But here is, I believe, one of Satan’s primary schemes: he cuts us off from the body of Christ. He lies to us that we cannot show our sin and struggle until we’ve been fixed. Until we’re through this depression, or over that addiction.
The enemy makes us hang our heads and ignore our phone calls. He encourages us to stay home on Sundays, or skirt out the sanctuary early. He suggests we can do it on our own, even offering that afterwards we’ll be able to tell our story and help others.
And so we stay hidden. And broken.
This is often the place I’m tempted to stay in, in this difficult season. But then I step out of the shadows of my shame—sometimes, quite begrudgingly. Sometimes, dragged out by the persistent, gracious questioning of my friends. And it is in the light of the Church that I have seen my shame overcome, and my fears melt. I have felt so carried by my brothers and sisters. I have been blessed beyond words to see the body of Christ working as it was intended. And to see that I, even in my season of needing a lot of ministering to, can still minister to others.
We need each other. We need help.
Because shame hides—not just your sorry self… but it hides the truth. Shame keeps the gospel from spreading. Shame lies to us, saying we can’t be helped or helpful, until we’re whole. And since we’ll never be whole, the enemy has sidelined us from both restoration and ministry… forever. Forever, or until we start BELIEVING THE GOSPEL.
For the gospel says, It Is Finished. The gospel says, I am whole, not because I lack sin but because I am hidden in Christ’s righteousness. The gospel says, I am a minister, not because I’m void of struggle but because Christ uses the foolish and weak things to reveal himself.
Satan is creative in his schemes… He knows how to lure us into the shadows.
But God is more creative. He conquered shame on the cross. He uses the very weakness we’re afraid to expose, to show his power and to share his grace.
We were not called as individuals, but we were called to the body of Christ. The body of Christ… where fig leaves are shed and replaced with a Better Covering.
So, of course, I’m going to encourage my daughter to be a Helper and a Giver. But I also need to teach her that it’s okay to be helped. That we all need the gifts and the grace and the comfort of our church family. Receiving his grace, and pouring out his grace–every day of our life. This is what it truly is to grow up.