Overcoming Shame
This article is written by Bill Peach and is used with his permission.

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God is Not Ashamed of Us
"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country -- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. " Hebrews 11:13-16

God knows me completely, inside and out. There are no gaps in His understanding. He is not sentimental. When I look at who I am, and what I am like, I am often ashamed of myself. When I look at God, and what He is like, it is hard to believe that He is not ashamed of me. Maybe you can relate.

These feelings of shame makes it impossible to be close to God. Why follow a God who is ashamed of us? Even though we give him plenty of reasons to be ashamed of us, I'm really glad He doesn't feel that way about me or you. I'm glad He told us in Hebrews how He really feels and why He feels that way.

The "Heroes of the Faith" listed in Hebrews 11 all had two things in common. They were ordinary people with extrordinary faith in their Creator. Their faith in God was proven by their willingness to seek His will for their lives, then choose to do what God called them to. Even their obedience was flawed, but God looked beyond that, and focussed on their faith.

  1. They had faith that God's plan goes beyond this life.
  2. They did not give up on God, even when their life was ending.
  3. They did not give up on God, even though they died before God's complete plan was revealed.
  4. They wanted a home that only God could provide, something better than the best that was humanly possible.

The place that God has prepared for us (and for them) can not be seen, touched, or videotaped. It can only be imagined, believed in, and sought after with our hearts, by deciding to surrender to God on His terms, not ours. God is not ashamed of us, because we have the faith and trust in Him to "Seek first His Kingdom, and His Righteousness", and accept both the privileges and the responsibilities that come with being part of His family.

Related Scriptures:

Jesus is Not Ashamed of Us
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering..." 1 Peter 4:12a

"In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrews 2:10-11

Hebrews 11 taught us that God is not ashamed of us, because we focus our faith and our lives on reaching God's eternal, heavenly city (Hebrews 11:13-16). Hebrews 2:10-11 says Jesus is not ashamed to have us in His family. It also says why Jesus is not ashamed of us, and this deeper truth is an important part of being victorious in the spiritual battles of daily life.

When Scripture says Jesus was "made perfect through suffering", it does not mean that He was imperfect or flawed. It means He was "proven genuine", "able to withstand the test", and "equal to the challenge" of living a sin-free life, even while being limited by his flesh and being "tempted in every way, just as we are" (Hebrews 4:15). One of the most important measures of how deeply you love someone is how much you are willing to suffer for that person. The Bible says that God and Jesus both knew the one way they could prove how much They love each person was by what They were willing to suffer to rescue us from the consequences of everything we had done.

Jesus is not ashamed of us, because we have chosen to be a part of His Family. Which family is that? The family that is willing to suffer for righteousness. Jesus knows better than anyone else how hard it is to be righteous in a world filled with temptations and other sinful people. And He appreciates the fact that we are trying to follow Him, imitate Him, and please Him with our lives. He is proud of us and encouraged by our faith. He wants us to know that He is not ashamed of any of us.

And if Jesus is not ashamed of us, should we ever be ashamed of each other? Never! Satan wants us to be ashamed of each other, to have a negative focus on some real or imagined way that some disciple doesn't "measure up". James says this makes us "judges with evil thoughts" (James 2:4). And Paul said, "From now on, I regard no one from a worldly point of view"(2 Corinthians 5:16). We all have important areas of life where we don't measure up. While we are helping each other and getting helped, let's be careful to avoid the traps of self righteousness and worldly attitudes toward each other. Whatever we don't have on straight (yet) is not as significant as what we do: The necessity and incredible opportunity of becoming a brother or sister to Jesus.

Related Scriptures:

I am not ashamed...
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..." Romans 1:16a

"If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." 1 Peter 1:16

"So, you claim to follow a dead Jewish carpenter who was crucified by Roman soldiers? You ought to be ashamed of yourself." I've had people say things like that to me. Others didn't say it, but they were thinking along those lines.

That's the worldly perspective on Jesus. I understand it. So did the Apostle Paul. It used to be his perspective. It used to be mine. Maybe it was yours. We said or thought those things not because we had the right answers to the important questions of life, death, and eternity, but because of our Biblical ignorance. The hypocritcal, confusing, "counterfeit Christianity" that we experienced or knew about convinced us that Christians didn't have good answers, that they didn't even understand the important questions.

Everyone gets tempted to feel "ashamed to proclaim". And everyone, even the Apostle Paul, gives into that temptation sometimes (Ephesians 6:19-20). But the people who made the most impact with their lives overcame that sense of shame a lot more than they gave into it. Here's what we can learn from them:

  1. Focus on God and Jesus, not us (Hebrews 12:1-4). It's easy to be ashamed or timid if we compare ourselves to other people, if we focus on worldly success rather than godly success. No one you talk to has accomplished the tiniest fraction of what Jesus did in 33 years, while He was burdened with the same limitations we have. Help the people around you to see how impressive Jesus is.
  2. Have compassion (Matthew 9:35-38). Jesus loves them, too. They are harrassed and helpless, struggling to find meaning and security in life. We are harrassed, but no longer helpless.
  3. Explain patiently (2 Timothy 2:22-26). People took the time to show me that what I objected to in Christianity (like the Crusades) wasn't genuine Christianity at all (John 8:31-32). Their patience overcame my sarcasm and unbelief.
  4. Be an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). God made you His Ambassador. He gave you power, authority, and the chance to have eternal impact. He believes in you. He will help you succeed.
  5. Pray a lot (Colossians 4:2-6, 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). The apostles asked people to pray for them, and spent a lot of time praying for others. We should, too. Prayer unleashes the power of God.
  6. Don't give up (Galatians 6:7-10, 1 Timothy 4:16). God promises us heaven and great company. Our words and actions will make a difference; sometimes people need time to see that God's way can be found and it works.

Related Scriptures: