Freed from Shame
When I was growing up, I was extremely shy. I would avoid being the center of attention to the point that I even hid in the bathroom during multiple award ceremonies to avoid the stage. My dad was a pastor, and the first time he used a story about me in a sermon illustration, I burst into tears. My shyness and self-consciousness kept me from sharing my gifts with other people for a number of years.
I think it’s kind of ironic that I now frequently speak in front of crowds. It makes me think about how we all can let shame and self-consciousness keep whispering in our ears, “You’re not enough. Who are you to stand up in this situation?”
Has self-consciousness ever whispered in your ear, saying, “You’re not enough?” Has shame kept you from stepping up to share your gifts with the world? We’re not alone in this struggle. Even the prophet Isaiah wrestled with shame and self-doubt. He writes about a vision he had where he saw God on his throne with an altar surrounded by seraphs or angels. Isaiah’s first reaction is to say, I don’t deserve to be here; I’m not good enough. Let’s see what happened next:
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” Isaiah 6:6-8 (NRSV)
The vision shows the cleansing of Isaiah by the angel touching his mouth with a live coal from the altar of God. This is a metaphor that shows the shift from Isaiah focusing on himself and all his perceived shortcomings to focusing on God’s love and how he could share that love in his own unique way.
The vision pointed to Jesus Christ cleansing us. Thanks to Jesus, we know that our sins and shortcomings have been taken away from us and we have been made new. In his second letter to the Corinthian church Paul says this:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NRSV)
Just like the prophet Isaiah, our shame has been removed and we are freed to serve others and share the gifts that God created in us.
My younger self didn’t realize that sharing the love of God with others doesn’t require us to be perfect. Sharing God’s love with others simply asks us to show up and love with the same love we’ve been given by the Holy Spirit.
Rest in the gift of freedom from shame that is God’s gift to you and freely share God’s love with others.
Presented by Michelle Fleming
About the presenter:
The Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Michelle Fleming is an elder in Grace Communion International and works in the International Home Office in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA as Media Director.
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