A Response to the Shame Gospel

Saturday night I found myself sitting in a Bushwick coffee shop with a steaming cup cooling next to my open journal. As romantic as this sounds, it has been a rarity for me even in the 20 months since the birth of my life in New York. The beauty of these love-crafted Brooklyn coffee shops and cafes is in the thickness of creative atmosphere quietly buzzing amid laptop-entrenched hipsters and freshly ground espresso. It was here Saturday night that I had no words to write, so captivated by this peaceful buzz that I could only listen to an outpouring of thoughts and ideas within me.

And then came the guilt. Why don’t I do this more often? I thought. I get so caught up, just wasting time and not quieting myself. I have all these ideas and keep encouraging other people to go for their own new ideas, but I’ve just been stalling. God has given me all this creative energy and I’m just wasting it! I’m not doing enough. I need to do more.

Then like a lightning bolt cutting through low pressure air, a voice said I am not disappointed in you.

I remember being taught at some point that the Christian Gospel would be offensive to people because its message says that we are not good enough. This caution is based on the lie that “you are not good enough” is news to people – that we need to hammer that phrase into them before they can accept the Gospel of Grace.

I contend that “I am not good enough” is old news to everyone, as evidenced by our rampant insecurities and fear-fueled actions. In fact, we are preaching a false gospel if we lead with such a message.

Even more, some of us have been spending so much of our lives overcompensating for those insecurities with this little thing called pride, that trying to convince us we can’t simply work harder to fix ourselves is a lost cause. If your lone goal is to dig up all my deeply rooted, mass-security-protected insecurities, you’ll only be giving me great practice in wall building, with higher structures and stronger materials and new advances in technology. I’ll be able to give myself even more pats on the back! All the while, no healing has taken place, and the sin virus is still breeding deep in my gut.

You don’t have to remind people of their weaknesses, mistakes, and flaws. The world has done a perfectly swell job of it, thank you very much.

And for us extra prideful ones, even when we do start a relationship with Jesus, we will spend our lives trying to beat ourselves up, afraid we can’t experience more of God’s love if we can’t first write a more thorough list of our shortcomings. And yet the overcompensation – the amateur band-aiding attempts – continue, and authentic healing is slow.

No, sharing the Gospel does not require that we give our friends and neighbors one last run through the mill to which they’ve been subjected their whole lives, the “you aren’t good enough on your own!” And for you, dear reader: to experience the power of the Gospel in your life, you do not have to submit yourself to shame first, either.

The Gospel of God’s loving act of redemption does not tell me “You are not enough. How embarrassing that My children would be so relentlessly broken and imperfect! Now I have to do this redemption thing to save My reputation, since you’ve fallen below my expectation and disappointed me!”

My friends, God is not disappointed in you.

What the Gospel – God leaving Heaven in all His perfection and taking on mockery, shame, unjust torture, and all of my sin, fear, and mistakes, dying a death only humanity had earned, then conquering death so that I could also conquer all the things He put to death with Himself – what that says to me is “child, you are so worth it.”

God thinks you are so worth it.

When I hear that, I don’t need to be reminded of my brokenness first, because all in an instant, my insecurities are both laid bare and completely vaporized in light of this great, great love for me.

Be encouraged:

[Christ] will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28b, NLT)

One Reply to “A Response to the Shame Gospel”

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