Summary: what do we do? How do we break through shame and come out the other side? How do we smash out of self-recrimination and move on with our lives basking in the forgiveness of God?
This sermon is based off of a few ideas in Craig Groeshel’s book “The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist.” Zondervan, 2010. ISBN: 9780310332220
CHRISTIAN ATHEIST: SHAME
INTRODUCTION… Smack in the face (p)
Last January, I had the pleasure and opportunity to participate in the marriage ceremony of my sister as the one performing the wedding. We went to Kentucky where the wedding took place and it was a wonderful time for our family. As part of the festivities, as it normally does for out-of-town guests, we stayed in a hotel. I do not mind hotels except for one thing… walking around in the dark. Let me explain what I mean. For most of us at home, we can get up in the night for lavatory engineering or wake up in the morning and get ready without turning on any lights. Why? We know where everything is… we can reach for the light switch or a door handle because we know where everything is located.
If I remember correctly, I woke up the night before the actual wedding ceremony and I was heading towards the restroom. I walked cautiously for a moment past the blissfully sleeping children and as I walked I began to reach for the bathroom door and ran smack into the wall. I do not mean I almost ran into the wall. I do not mean I almost smacked my whole self into the wall. I did it. I then felt along the ever present wall in front of me, reached around the corner, and flipped on the light.
I immediately got worried. Did I wake people up with the smacking into the wall? Did I wake people up by turning on the light? Then the real issue clouded my mind. Would there be bruises? I mean, as the officiant of the wedding, I am the most important person in the wedding and no one wants to see that person all battered and bruised… that would ruin the wedding! Would I have to share the tale of my bumps and bruises?
This morning I would like to take you on a similar journey. We are going to walk around in the dark a little while and talk about shame, definitely walk smack into a wall, and then flip on the light. To be honest, I don’t mind if we make a lot of noise and wake you up… in fact… I am hoping to wake up in terms of shame and our relationships with God.
WALKING AROUND IN THE DARK: BIBLE PASSAGES ON SHAME
Adam and Eve (Genesis)
As we begin to walk around in the dark, we start in Genesis 3 in the Bible. Genesis 3:8-10 says, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." We see in these verses a complete reversal of fortune for Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:25 says very plainly, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” In the beginning in the Garden, life was perfect and there was no shame. Now in the next chapter they are hiding from God and feeling full of shame. What was different? What painful event happened between Genesis 2:25 and Genesis 3:8 that would cause hiding and shame? Sin. Rebellion. Poor choices. Blame. Sin happened and Adam and Eve hid from God. You see, even as we get started walking the dark, we see clearly that sin and the resulting shame separate us from God. That is an important thought and Truth. Adam and Eve illustrate what is said later in Philippians 3:19 which says, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” At the core of what happened, Adam and Eve stopped identifying themselves with God and started to identify themselves with sin and shame.
Moses and the People of God (Exodus)
We are walking in the dark and I cannot help but think of Moses and the people of God as they camped around Mount Sinai in Exodus 32. The people of God had just come out from generations of slavery, they had seen the divine destructive plagues sent by God to release them, they had seen the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea… and now they waited for Moses to finish talking with God and come down from the mountain. Exodus 32:1-4 says, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him." 2 Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” Aaron made the calf which was an idol. The people worshipped the calf in the place of the God who saved them. The people exchanged God’s best for them for something they created. Moses came down from the mountain soon after. Do you remember what happened?