I A New Set Of Eyes
Some of us remember Peter Falk who was perhaps most famous for playing the role of the rumpled but always triumphant detective in the hit show “Columbo.” (picture of him as Columbo). A lot of people didn’t realize that Falk had a glass eye, resulting from an operation to remove a cancerous tumor when he was 3. In spite of his missing eye, he was an accomplished high school athlete. In one story he told about being called out at third base during a baseball game. He removed his eye and handed it to the third-base umpire.
He said, “Here, you’ll do better with this.”
- We all need a fresh set of eyes from time to time.
- If you’re with us for the first time we’ve been in the midst of a short series on “shame” that we’re bringing to a close today.
- I hope that our time together thus far has helped us see “shame” with a fresh set of eyes.
- The subject of shame is throughout Scripture and the power of “shame” is at work in so many ways in our culture and our life.
- So that we’re all on the same page today – what do I mean when I say “shame”?
- Shame is a feeling or an emotion of humiliation or distress that comes from a consciousness of how others see us or see us – and “others” can include God, or even sometimes, ourselves (since it’s possible to be ashamed of our self.)
- In short, shame is the pain of being exposed.
- Usually, shame involves an awareness of a wrong we’ve done or a shortcoming we have or ignorant behavior on our part that affects how others may see us.
- But there are two different kinds of shame at work in our lives – what I call “well-placed shame” and “misplaced shame.”
- Well-placed shame is shame that comes with sin or wrongdoing in our life.
So last week I spoke about shame as a swamp. Swamps are very unpleasant places – loaded with snakes, insects, and all kinds of critters. They are dark, stagnant places.
And yet they have a place in the larger ecosystem. All the vegetation in swamps acts a natural filter of the water in those parts of the country that have swamps. Swamps also act as a massive sponge that soaks up water from massive portions of land in places like Louisiana and Florida.
The point was swamps have a place in our ecosystem, but you don’t want to go building your home in them.
The shame that comes with sin and wrongdoing does have a place in the ecosystem of our spiritual lives. It does have a role to play in terms of slowing us down and causing us to evaluate our lives.
But you don’t want to go building your life in that swamp of shame.
This is why following Jesus and understanding the gospel is so important to being able to work through one’s shame.
- If you missed the message last week, I really encourage you to watch or listen online or through our Branch App.
- Today, we’re going to talk the other kind of shame – “misplaced shame.”
- Misplaced shame is the shame we feel for something that really isn’t shameful but we’re made to feel that it is.
- This is when shame is “out of place” or when it doesn’t belong.
- So what I want to do is address a few examples of misplaced shame that goes on a lot and explore how to work through it as followers of Jesus.
II Misplaced Shame When It Comes To Jesus
- And the first example of misplaced shame actually concerns our relationship with Jesus.
- Jesus warned us against misplaced shame when it comes to Him.
- Consider what He said in Mark 8:38 –
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when comes in his Father’s glory and with the holy angels.
- The fact that Jesus tells us this tells me something – that there will be a temptation to be ashamed of Him and His words though there should be no reason to be ashamed.
- Paul spoke in Romans 1:16-17 –
I’m not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…..
- So being ashamed of the gospel – the good news about Jesus – is misplaced shame.
- Paul went on to say to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:8 –
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.
- Here Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed of his testimony about the Lord or of someone who’s suffering because of their relationship with the Lord.
- You can see from these three verses that that if we feel shame for testifying about Jesus – we have misplaced shame.
- Or if we feel a sense of shame because we have a relationship with someone who’s in trouble because of their relationship with Jesus – we have misplaced shame.
- There are things that are honoring to God that we shouldn’t be ashamed of – and if we are then these are instances of misplaced shame.
- When I think of examples of misplaced shame in the gospels, I think about Peter and how we was ashamed of his relationship with Jesus and even denied knowing him three different times when he was being questioned by that servant girl in John 18.
- But if I’m honest, I’ve had moments in my own life when I was ashamed of Jesus and His words.
- What can we learn about ourselves in those moments?
- One thing I learned is how deeply I valued what others thought of me and how deeply I needed to reconnect with what Jesus thought of me.
- He died for me, when those people whose approval I desired didn’t and wouldn’t.
- He endured a cross of shame for me, when those whose approval I desired didn’t and wouldn’t.
- I also learned that I was more preoccupied with what I had to lose – people’s approval – than what others had to gain – an opportunity to hear about Jesus.
- My experience with misplaced shame taught me much about myself.
- If you’ve had an experience with misplaced shame recently as it relates to Jesus, don’t deny it – lean into it – what did it teach you about yourself?
- Ask the Lord’s forgiveness and for a new opportunity to be unashamed when it comes to Him.
- What I’d like to do now though is taking you to the oldest story of misplaced shame in Scripture.
III The Oldest Story In The Book
- Often we wind up experiencing misplaced shame through the experience of being “shamed” by others.
- This actually occurs in one of the earliest stories in Scripture.
- Do you remember the one emotion Adam and Eve are described as having in the Garden of Eden when God made them?
- These are the last words of Genesis 2 – ……and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:25)
- But now look at the very next scene in Genesis 3:1-5 –
Now the serpent was more crafty that any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”
“You will not certainly die,” the servant said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
- You know the rest of the story – she took it and ate of it.
- There’s a lot that could be talked about here.
- But note what the enemy does – he begins by trying to suggest how oppressive and restrictive God is.
- “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?”
- Those of you who know the story, know that God didn’t say that.
- He restricted her from one tree not all of them.
- She corrects the enemy there and so he tries another tactic – he suggests what God’s motives are to Eve.
- He paints the picture that she is missing out and that God is intentionally holding out on her.
- He in essence suggests to her that she doesn’t have “enough” knowledge of good and evil and that how God set things up isn’t “enough” for her.
- He goes to work “shaming” her.
- “Shaming” can often work as a powerful form of temptation in our lives.
- She has nothing to be ashamed of and yet the enemy in one sense is suggesting that she does and she needs to do something about it.
Virginity is an easy example of this in our culture. We live in a culture which says “if you’re still a virgin by the time you’re 18 or 21 or graduated college – that’s something to be ashamed of – something is wrong with you.” Because we’ve tied becoming a man or a woman to sexual activity. Some people allow themselves to be shamed into becoming sexually active before they are married.
Believe it or not, sobriety is sometimes “shamed” in our culture, too. “You’re 21 and you’ve never been high or wasted?”
Some people are undone by misplaced shame when they lose at something because they’ve attached so much of their identity, value, and meaning in life to winning. I think of the testimony of US Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.
She had been predicted to win gold in some of the individual competitions in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Instead she won three silvers. Every time the person hung the silver around her neck, she said to Shawn, “I’m sorry.”
Shawn’s tendency to see her significance and meaning as being attached to winning latched on to that. She crumbled under that weight of misplaced shame. She won a silver but all she could feel was shame. It took a relationship with Jesus later to come out from under it.
Some people experience misplaced shame over their disability. Some experience misplaced shame over being the victim of a sexual assault. Some over their poverty that they’re born into, some over their wealth their born into, and some over their race. And many of us experience misplaced shame over asking for help.
- In all these instances, it’s possible to experience misplaced shame and make life-altering decisions out of misplaced shame that complicate our lives all the more.
IV Comparison So Often The Tool Of Choice
- Comparison is so often the tool of choice when it comes to delivering misplaced shame in our lives.
- In the case of Eve, the enemy is getting Eve to buy into a narrative of comparing herself to God and what God knows and what God is holding out from her.
- So often the enemy uses comparison in our own lives as a doorway leading to misplaced shame.
There’s a great little book called “Daring Greatly” written by Brene Brown. One of the questions she’s been asking for years is why are so many of us struggling with feelings of shame? One of the things she asks participants in her studies to do is to answer this question:
“What do you hear or see in the phrase: Never ___________ enough.”
Brown says it only takes a few seconds for everyone to respond. In fact, go ahead and put something in that blank in your own mind.
“Never good enough”
“Never perfect enough”
“Never thin enough”
“Never powerful enough”
“Never smart enough”
“Never certain enough”
“Never extraordinary enough”
Brown goes on to say that we spend inordinate amounts of time calculating how much we have, want, and don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs, and wants.
What makes the constant assessing and comparing so self-defeating is that we are often comparing our lives, our marriages, our families, etc…. to unattainable airbrushed visions of perfection in magazines, or people’s “highlight” reels on Facebook, Instagram, or SnapChat.
And, by the way, that’s a lot of times what’s on people’s social media and that’s ok. Often they are celebrating something good and we ought to be happy for them and with them. But often it’s their “highlight reel.”
So take my family for instance. We might post a picture of our family from Christmas or the first day of school that we like because we love our kids. But that doesn’t mean we look that way all the time. And it certainly doesn’t mean we weren’t fighting 5 minutes before the picture was taking. It’s our highlight. But it’s not the whole game.
We need to keep this in mind when we look at people’s social media.
You see, because we don’t understand how often the enemy traffics in comparison to bring us to the point of misplaced shame, we wind up with a “shame-prone” culture where many struggle with feelings of shame rooted in comparison.
- So what do we do when we’re in a bout with misplaced shame?
- I would argue we don’t run from it or deny it.
- Rather we lean into it in order to triumph over it.
- What do I mean by leaning into it?
- We acknowledge that we feel it – even though we shouldn’t – and then we go deeper and begin to ask some questions.
Questions To Consider When Dealing With “Misplaced” Shame
- Is This An Opportunity For Me To Acknowledge My Limitations?
- A lot of times our misplaced shame is tied to limitations that we have.
- But we all have limitations.
- Some limitations we’re born with and some we’re born into.
- And some are introduced in our lives that we have nothing to do with.
- Our limitations are nothing to be ashamed of, but rather they’re to be acknowledged.
- Some of us want to hide our limitations or deny them out of a deeply embedded fear of facing shame if we ever acknowledge them.
- But the best thing to do is to see them for what they are and acknowledge them.
- In some cases we might be able to overcome some of them.
- But facing them is key – because we cannot overcome what will we not acknowledge or face.
So there was a time 50 years ago when there was so much misplaced shame over being dyslexic. It took people facing it and leaning into to admit they had a struggle and eventually enough did to where people persevered until they found solutions.
Today someone with dyslexia has far more of a chance to grow and develop intellectually than 50 years ago.
- What about the limitations we can’t overcome?
- Those are invitations to humility, depending upon God, and learning to depend upon others in those areas of our lives.
- Is This An Opportunity For Me To Choose The Standards Of Christ Instead Of Those Of The Culture I Live In?
- In other words there are things that are a part of following Jesus that many in our culture are ashamed of and we can be “shamed” for – such as the idea that Jesus is the Way, in a culture that says “any old way will do,” etc…
- Sometimes the “misplaced shame” we feel is the tension of making a choice to live in a certain way that’s different from the culture we live in.
- Those are the moments when we decide we will put up with the misplaced shame culture puts on us rather than to be ashamed of our Lord or what He calls us to.
There’s a little sign that hangs in Tim Scott’s office, our Next Generation Team Leader at The Branch. (put up picture) It reads “Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now.”
- What we want most is the applause of heaven.
- Let’s not give up what we want most for what we want now.
- Is This An Opportunity For Me To Be Jolted Out Of The “Comparison Cycle” And Into A Renewed Focus On What God Thinks Of Me?
- Sometimes I wind up in a place of misplaced shame because I’m stuck in the comparison trap and I need a renewed focus and appreciation on what God thinks of me and calls me to.
- Is This An Opportunity For Me To Feel What Others Feel And Be Moved Launch A Revolution Against Misplaced Shame?
- In 2 Samuel 9 we read a powerful little story about King David and a man named Mephibosheth.
- Mephibosheth was the grandson of King Saul who had tried to kill David as a young man.
- Mephibosheth’s dad was Jonathan who came to be one of David’s best friends.
- Before Jonathan died, David had pledged to always look after his family.
- When Mephibosheth was a toddler, Jonathan’s family was attacked and the “nanny” of the family picked Mephibosheth up and was running with him to safety.
- She dropped Mephibosheth by accident and the fall permanently crippled him.
- Years passed and Mephibosheth found himself living in a desolate land far away from the palace David lived in.
- He was dealing with the shame of being a cripple and the grandson of King Saul who had gone crazy late in his reign and attempted to kill a young King David.
- When David found out about Mephibosheth and that he was still alive, he tracked him down and had him brought to the palace to live there.
- And there’s this verse in the story about Mephibosheth being allowed to eat at the king’s table though he was a cripple.
- But at the table David had dignified him with the table even covering over his crippled legs and family heritage of which he was ashamed.
- We need revolutions against misplaced shame.
- Revolutions that help people rethink what they say they’re ashamed of but shouldn’t be.
- Revolutions that remove the results of “shaming” and misplaced shame in our culture.
I was captivated by a story out of Tanino, Washington. Marvin Phillips and his family were on vacation when they got a call from their local police department that their home had been vandalized. The Phillips family is black. And someone had come along and spray painted derogatory terms all over their home and vehicles.
But by the time the Phillips returned home a few days later – there was very little evidence of any of it. Because their entire neighborhood had some together and completely repainted the house and some people with some “know how” had removed the graffiti from their cars and done some paint work. A community had come together to removing the work of “shaming” the Phillips for their color.
- We need a revolution against misplaced shame.
- Sometimes it involves an act of service and love like those neighbors.
- Sometimes it involves words of love.
- Sometimes it involves sacrificing something of our own to stand with someone else who is dealing with misplaced shame.
I think of John and Gabriel Marshall. Gabriel’s a little boy at my brother-in-law’s church in Tulsa. He had brain surgery recently for a tumor. After the surgery he saw the huge scar across his head and was so embarrassed about it. He told his mom he felt like a monster. So what did his dad John do?
He went to a tattoo artist with a picture of his son’s scar. He came in with a shaved head and asked the tattoo artist to do tattoo on his skull of the scar that was even bigger and more pronounced than his son’s scar. (Show picture)
His dad could have told him over and over not to be ashamed of the scar. But what he thought was best was to take one on himself so that his son knew he wasn’t alone.
- I think of the cross of Jesus and the scars on His hands and feet when I think of what John did for Gabriel.
- In many ways, His scars remind us that He too knows what it is to feel misplaced shame.
- He who had no sin, took on sin that wasn’t His and the shame that went with it that we might have our shame removed.
- We live in a world of “shaming” and “misplaced shame.”
- And there are all kinds of ways to go to war and help people experience the One who can truly lead them beyond all shame.
Beyond All Shame
Dealing With Misplaced Shame