If you have not read the first two articles in this series, Understanding Shame and Battling Shame, we encourage you to work through those before diving into this one. We have been spotlighting some key concepts and resources from our newly revised Shame: Finding Freedom study. We looked at the roles that telling the truth, being vulnerable, and receiving empathy and compassion have in battling shame. We want to spend some time reflecting on how Jesus restores our honor.
If you have been following along, you know that we’ve included a retelling of the stories of Hannah and the Bleeding Woman in the last few newsletters. Now, we will look at the Samaritan Woman. Each story helps us see ways people in the Bible experienced shame and how Jesus responded to them. We have nine of these stories in our new study on shame. We believe these are important because they help us see how Jesus restores the honor of those who are covered in shame. If we can get a small taste of his redemption in their lives, then maybe we can be less hesitant to come to him with our sin and suffering.
We are image bearers—created in the image of God with great dignity and honor, entrusted with a great purpose, and designed to enjoy unhindered relationships with God and others. When Adam and Eve sinned, all of that was fractured. They became painfully aware of their nakedness, the existence of evil, and their vulnerability to God and others. Rather than running to God in that moment and seeking freedom and healing in him, they ran from him—hiding in the bushes, covering their nakedness with fig leaves, and blaming one another. Shame led Adam and Eve to move away from God.
But God, in his mercy and kindness, moved toward them. He called them out of hiding and covered their nakedness with animal skins. This must have been a relief because that is way more substantial than a fig leaf! Not a lot has changed for us. Ever since the fall, we have been trying to manage our guilt and shame in much the same way. We make feeble attempts to cover up our weaknesses, we hide and pull away from God and others and often resort to blaming others for our sin and shame. We try to create a way to get shame off of us.
This cycle is exhausting and ultimately fruitless. But the good news is that Christ took the blame so that our sins could be covered with his righteousness. As his children, we are hidden in Christ and we stand before God blameless—without accusation, fault, spot, or blemish. He has clothed us with his garments of righteousness and his cloak of salvation. He is Emmanuel, the God who is with us in our suffering, offering us his comfort and care. As we take all that in, we need to be reminded that we did nothing to deserve any of this. Honor is given, not earned. Our way out of shame is to receive the honor he is offering us in Christ.
In the Genesis narrative, we get some hints at the grace that is heading our way. In the gospels, we see how Jesus is our ultimate provision, and in the book of Revelation, we see his glory on full display as he restores all things to himself. In this last book of the Bible, we get a picture of the Father throwing the ultimate party, welcoming the bride. As we gather around this celebratory table that he has prepared, we will be covered in his righteousness, no longer fractured by our sin and shame. As image bearers, our dignity, purpose, and relationship with the God who made us will be completely restored!
Until then, we sit in this shame-filled middle. Eagerly waiting for the day when the curse will be dismantled and all things are made new. But we wait with a confident hope in a God who walks with us to the end and brings us home to him, for the praise of his glory and grace.
For The Ezer Women’s Discipleship Team
This month, we are going to read three passages, including the story of the Samaritan Woman, that help us see how Jesus removes our shame and replaces it with honor. As you read these Scriptures, ask yourself:
- What phrases or words describe shame (refer to Shame in the Scriptures)?
- What phrases or words describe honor (refer to Honor in the Scriptures)?
- Where or how do you see God replacing shame with honor?
- What hope or encouragement does this give you?
The prophet describes the restoration that awaits the people of God. At the start of his ministry, Jesus read the first four verses of this passage in the temple (Luke 4:17-20).
Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
In this passage, we read about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. Keep in mind that this people group was despised by the Jews and considered unclean because of their ethnic and religious heritage. They were excluded from the faith and viewed as outsiders.
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
These final chapters of Revelation help us reorient our minds and hearts around the spiritual reality that awaits us as believers.
And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.”
Some liberties have been taken in this retelling, but we hope it captivates your imagination as you read how God meets her in her struggle with shame.
Watch the story of the Samaritan Woman retold as a spoken word piece, written by Haley Barinowski and performed by Laurel Stacey.
This Journeywomen podcast describes some of the practical implications of what it means to be Clothed in the Righteousness of Christ.
“As we walk in that tension of knowing that we’re clothed in Christ yet sometimes still feeling naked and ashamed, we look forward to the day where there are white robes that have been washed in the blood of the lamb and there’s a beautiful bride whose groom looks at her with so much love.”
We encourage you to use these conversation starters as a means of self-reflection and for discussion within your community.
- What are some strategies you have used to try to get your shame “off” you?
- Honor cannot be earned; it must be received. What are some ways you have tried to earn honor and favor with God?
- God restores our honor by forgiving us, clothing us in his righteousness, and adopting us into his family where we receive his comfort, love, and grace. We receive honor simply because he is not ashamed to identify with us in our brokenness. What keeps you from turning to him and receiving the honor he is offering you?
Scripture warns us not to be just hearers of the Word but to be doers of it as well. All of life is repentance. What is a believable next step God is calling you to take in response to all you’ve learned? Pick one or two of the below steps to take.
1.This quote by Ed Welch from his book Shame Interrupted is a good description of what God has done for us. How would you live differently if you really believed this was true?
“You stand forgiven and holy before God because Jesus took the penalty for your sins on himself (you touched him) and gave you his holiness (he touched you) If you live as though that forgiveness needs a small boost from your own grief or good works, then you don’t understand what he did.”
2. We created this Honor in the Scriptures resource to equip you to read the Bible with an eye for looking at the way honor is portrayed. As you read Scripture, pay attention to words and phrases that are associated with honor. How might understanding honor change the way you experience God and worship him?
3. The newly revised Shame: Finding Freedom study will be offered this year at all our Grace Church campuses. Sign up to be a part of this study when it is offered at your campus so you can work through this material in community with others. If you are not able to participate at Grace, you can order the materials for this study and watch the teaching online. Please contact [email protected] for more information.
We can easily feel that Jesus is perpetually disappointed in us. We know what Christ has done for us―but who is he? How does he feel about us amid all their sins and failures? Jesus describes himself as “gentle and lowly in heart,” and longs for his people to find rest in him. This book gives us a picture of his heart for sinners and encourages us as we journey, weary and faltering, toward heaven.
The Bible is about shame from start to finish, and, if we are willing, God’s beautiful words break through. This four-week study takes a look at Jesus through the lens of shame and shows how the marginalized and worthless are his favorites. God cares for the shamed. Through Jesus you are covered, adopted, cleansed, and healed.
This podcast explores the intersection of interpersonal neurobiology and Christian spiritual formation. In Season 5, Curt dives into his book The Soul of Shame chapter by chapter.