Shame-lifter, burden-bearer, Savior, Restorer

Shame does crazy things to us.

It keeps us in the dark, so much so that we can’t even see clearly for our own selves, much less someone else.

Shame stacks on itself also. I have shame from a past sin; I hide it deep within, trying to keep it even from those who love me most, packing it down, deep inside. This packing creates a new space. A space where new sin can come in and we won’t even see it. We’ll be blindsided. Blindsided by addiction, or depression, anxiety, or just a soft chipping away, separating us from people we love for fear they unravel the truth –

we aren’t worthy.

Or we swing the other way, holding our heads high, proclaiming in a thousand tiny ways that we know better, we have at least this part together, we’re just a tiny bit better than “them” at least.

I know I’m making this sound dramatic. Surely life isn’t this desperate, shame this commanding of our every day. And it isn’t, if you know Christ, and it is…just a little, anyway. Can you imagine life not knowing Him? Maybe you do life without Him.

Maybe you know life with no shame-bearer. If so, this blog is especially for you.

This is the language of Paul in Galatians 6:1-5 – Christ in our lives, one another sharing Christ’s love through the work of the Spirit, in order to put shame where it belongs…out of our hearts and on the cross.

Read Galatians 6:1-5 below:

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. 

Paul’s burden bearing is most often associated with suffering and the struggle of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And this is most certainly true. We are called to and we do bear with others in their suffering and their rejoicing, via the work of the Spirit (see Galatians 5) and Romans 12:15:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

There is so much hope in Life Together.

But there is a darker side to suffering and I think Paul addresses this in Galatians 6. Sin happens. We are all sinful, all of us. Every one – you, me, and the guy sitting next to you.

God gives us one another for restoration.

We hear the grace of Christ, not from a sacred orb or a billboard we drive by, but the living, breathing person God puts in front of us. The Word does the work. The Word of God, in the Bible tells the Truth of God’s love and forgiveness, but you, my friend, are the one who changes someone’s life. It is in you the same Spirit Paul speaks of in Galatians 5 inhabits, to reach out to someone struggling in sin.

Galatians 6:3 is crystal clear –

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

We are not better than anyone. We have no less shame than the next person. It is so easy to hide the dark stuff, but we carry the burden of another by sharing who we really are, where we have really been, rather than the spruced up version.

Freedom in Christ looks like reaching across to someone, being real, and helping them hand that burden to Christ, because we know we’ve messed up plenty in our own time.

Greek for restoration in this passage is katartizete – to fit together, to put in its proper place, to get to its proper destination.

We aren’t here in this life for “a little bit better.” We are here for fitting together as the people of God, in the place and time God has put each of us.

Shame has no place. It doesn’t fit. Instead, God gives us restoration to free us from the weight of the burdens we each hold, whether it’s past or present.

“What are you going through?”

“What is Satan throwing in front of you today?”

“Let’s pray together.”

It is in these moments God works restoration through His Spirit, around His Word.

Dr. Curt Thompson, in his book, Soul of Shame, says it like this…

“Shame is not something we “fix” in the privacy of our mental processes; evil would love for us to believe that to be so. We combat it within conversation, prayer, and other communal, embodied activities…” (pg 17-18)

Be free – free to be a part of a life with other sinful people, just trying their best, but rejoicing that Jesus Christ fills in all the gaps.

Be free – free to love enough to share hard stuff, to lift someone else’s hard stuff and help them hand it to Christ.

Be free. Galatians 6:4-5 says we test our own actions, carry our own load. It sounds contradictory, but this is the walk of faith – examining myself, confessing my sin and shame, letting Christ wash it away, so that I can help you do the same.

It is for Freedom Christ has set us Free.

 

Discussion questions:

What methods does shame use to keep us from confession?

Tell us about a time you were able to bear someone else’s burden of sin, whether it led to confession or not? What was hard about it? What was good?

Confess one thing to a Christian brother or sister – even a seemingly tiny thing – within the safety of life together and grab ahold of the freedom of forgiveness.

Chasing “a little bit better”, Freedom in Restoration

Oh goodness. The title for this last week of study just gets right to the heart of it, doesn’t it?

Chasing “a little bit better”…

How often do I reach for a little bit better when God offers me life abundant?

Why do I do it? Why do I eat the crumbs that fall from the table, taking in a little measly morsel of grace when I go to church, and another measly morsel when I converse with a friend, another measly morsel when I finally, finally apologize after lashing out at my husband?

I refuse isolation in this. I know it’s not just me. So many of us are yoked to chasing just a tiny bit better – feeling better, talking better, acting better-

when God wants restoration for us, instead of better.

Galatians 6:1 ties Galatians 5 and 6 together. Read Galatians 5:22-6:2 as one continuous passage:

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The fruit of the Spirit may as well be Christ living in me to reach out to you and vice versa.

Can you imagine? God does not tell us to reach out to all the put-together people, all the people who live well and walk well in the faith. He tells us, through Paul here, to reach our hand in and offer help to the hurting, to call out sin where it lives, in you and in me, to be honest, when it’s hard and it hurts, but to bear it together.

Sharing our sin, our disgrace openly, within true community and actual care, is I believe the most powerful weapon we have to combat Satan in our current cultural context.

Our culture says, “Shame on you.”

Christ says, “I restore.”

Our culture says, “You can do better.”

Christ says, “I did it all.”

Our culture says, “Don’t let them see your darkness.”

Christ says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.”

We bring that light to each other. We carry the Word out and into a world so deeply in need, chasing just a tiny bit better and losing.

The oft left unquoted Word from John 17:15 says,

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 

It’s a prayer from Christ Himself over each one of us. We’re quick to quote the next verse:

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

A little bit better feels a lot like God letting us keep our junk to ourselves, keeping us from humiliation, keeping us from the embarrassing stain of our own sin, but He has a bolder, bigger plan:

Reveal it, so I can heal it.

(Ok, I didn’t intend for that to rhyme. 😉 )

Christ prayed for us to remain in the world because He knows that a little bit better doesn’t heal – it only patches. Revealing our pain and struggle, revealing where we have fallen short and mess it all up – that not only leads to our restoration, but it also begins the process of restoration for another.

Can we do it? Can we share some secret shame, so that another can find some bright and glorious restoration?

We can’t cast our pearls before swine. We can’t be transparent where there is no relationship, we don’t bare the burden of sin, the weight of sin with people who would take it and trash it underfoot, but in relationship it’s worth the risk.

Paul states in Galatians 6:1 “watch yourselves…” We don’t want to be tempted and thrown into someone else’s drama of sin, but he doesn’t tell us not to risk it. Christ’s solution to this in John 17 is the Word. If we are going to help another through their shame of sin, we bring the Word in genuine care and concern and we wrap it in our own humility of sin and the restoration we have received from Christ Jesus.

It’s so much better than a little bit better…

It’s life together.

It’s Redemption before our eyes.

It’s Him at work in you and me, and between you and me.

It’s remarkable grace.

Can we be done chasing a little bit better…together? I’ll share with you and you share with me. We’ll bear the weight of sin together, confess together, proclaim forgiveness over one another and experience the fresh and utterly weightless mercy of our Savior…together.

#lifetogether – Connect and send someone this week’s free downloadable Dear 52 card or order the whole set here

Discussion questions:

When have you gotten burnt in a “relationship” that wasn’t as solid as you thought?

How does Christ’s restoration differ from making things a little bit better?

What in your life right now would you like a little bit better, that we could pray with you for restoration instead?

The War Inside

Each of us experience turmoil.

We have to make personal choices and decisions, there’s conflict in a family or with our neighbor, co-worker stuff, church stuff, and friendship stuff. On top of that we are all impacted by global strife in ways we realize and ways we may not.

In this week’s video study we focus in on James 4:1-5 and talk about the nitty gritty of wars raging in and how we push those wars to the outside because they are so uncomfortable. Christ declares us righteous and holy in Him through all of it!

Find the archived link here on the I Love My Shepherd YouTube channel:

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section here or on YouTube.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25a


Questions from this week’s study:
Where do you see the war inside of you come out?
What hope does knowing you live as both sinner and saint offer?
What useful questions can you ask yourself or others in this struggle?
What kinds of things do you want and covet?
What things do you see people quarreling about? Is it about Jesus or just stuff?

 

Notes:

simul justus et peccator – whatdoesthismean.org

simul justus et peccator – ligonier.org

Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze