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 Sam Peck
Imagine a world absent of shame. A world without the constant nagging and gut wrenching feelings of regret. A world where you never have to look back over your shoulder at your decisions, wondering if anyone is noticing your trail of constant failures and inconsistencies. A world where every moment can be fully enjoyed without consuming questions running in the background like: “Will I regret this?” or “When will this good feeling end?”. In a shameless world, you only look forward. In a shameless world there is no “temporary joy”, just “joy”. There is no fear of something running out, or fear that we have ruined our future. Just pure satisfaction in the moment we are in, absent of stress and anxiety.
For most of us, this world sounds less like reality and more like “wishful thinking”. When we were kids the idea of a perfect world was easily imaginable, but the longer we live with shame and regret running in the background and filling our screens every day, the more a shameless world begins to feel like fiction.
As humans we experience short, fleeting glimpses of a shameless existence throughout life. Moments like: seeing my wife walk down the aisle, or holding my daughter in my arms for the first time after she was born. These moments temporarily remind us that a perfect world is possible, if only for a moment. Moments like these remind us that we were made to inhabit a perfect and shameless existence. However, our failures and life’s hardships quickly rush into the forefront, bringing us back into a cynical state of doubt in which we continually believe that a shameless and perfect world only belongs in fairy tales.
What would have to happen for there to truly be a perfect and shameless world? At least six things would have to happen:
1: The debts of our past failures would have to be propitiated (paid for). What good would a perfect world be if it was marred by the fear that the debts of my past mistakes would follow us into it? Imagine the weight of knowing everything around you was perfect, except you. The eternal shame would be hellish, to say the least.
2: Our desire to do what is wrong would have to be regenerated (changed). Even if my past failures were forgiven, it would only be a temporary fix if my desires were still to do wrong and hurtful things. Something drastic would have to change in the deepest part of my being. Without a new and perfected nature, how could I possibly inhabit a new and perfected world? My presence there would taint it and destroy its perfection.
3: Evil’s power would have be defeated and evil’s presence would have to be eradicated. A perfect world is only perfect if the things that are imperfect and destructive are completely removed.
4: Death itself would have to be defeated. For there to be a perfect and shameless world death would have to no longer exist. Eternity would have to become reality. For this we would need new bodies that were made to last, and could not die or decay.
5: The universe and all of its imperfections would have to be renovated and re-created. This world was not made to last. It is on a linear trajectory of decay. We need a new one. One that is designed eternally. One where nature itself does not cause pain and death like this one does.
6: Humanity would need unrestricted access to the ultimate source of joy in order to be eternally satiated. To never feel sadness or disappointment, we would need to always be near something all-satisfying. We would need to always be near the source of beauty, the source of glory, the source of life, the inventor of joy, the inventor of pleasure.
The voice, not the echo.
The stone, not the splash.
The person, not the shadow…
Otherwise we would be doomed to an eternal existence of dissatisfaction. Once again, this would be a hellish existence.
Paul explicitly notes in Romans 1:16 that “he is not ashamed of the Gospel”. Paul was ashamed of many things in his life: he was ashamed of his past in which he killed and persecuted Christians. He was ashamed of struggling with covetousness and he was ashamed of his physical thorn in the flesh. However, there was one very important reality that Paul was not ashamed of, and that was the Gospel. In fact, Paul was so passionate about the Gospel that He spent his life preaching about it even unto martyrdom. Why was Paul so unashamed of the Gospel? He goes on to note in Romans; “ I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God to save lives. In it is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith”. Paul saw the Gospel as more than just forgiveness of sins. He saw it as the ultimate answer to humanity’s eternal condition. He saw the good news of Christ’s work as being the perfect genesis to a new and perfect future, and the nucleus of every created thing.
Paul knew that the Gospel answered all six of these needs with complete perfection. Christ’s blood paid the expensive bill of forgiveness for our shameful past actions. Christ sent the Spirit in order to give His people a new heart and new set of desires, specially created for a perfect world. Christ purchased back the title deed to the cosmos by defeating evil at its roots on the cross. Christ defeated death by being the prototype of the deathless humanity. Christ is coming again to renovate all of the material and immaterial realms into an eternal state that will exist without flaws. Lastly, Christ has made it possible for us as believers to have unrestricted and unbridled access to THEE all satisfying and never disappointing source of joy, which is the Father Himself.
The Gospel is the perfect answer to our human condition, not only because it removes our shame and our sin positionally, but also because it removes us from this shameful existence permanently.
A perfect and shameless world is not a fairy tale. We were designed for it. For those that have accepted this great future, shame is only a reality when we allow it to be. For those that have accepted this great future, this life is as close to hell as we will ever get.
May we live in such a way that brings this future reality out of fiction and into description. May we, like Paul, proclaim this Gospel without shame, knowing that it truly is the power of God to save lives—especially my own.
Come quickly, Lord. We greatly anticipate the day when we will meet you in your Glory, and continue in your story.