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Can Humans Absolve Shame?

Chris —  February 26, 2015

The following is an excerpt from a recent talk I gave at Austin Mustard Seed for the first week of Lent.

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Psalm 25:1-3

The Poet begs that God deliver him from shame.

I find it interesting that he does not ask outright for success. He doesn’t beg God for a win. He says don’t let me be ashamed.

The Fear of Shame

What is it about shame that is so terrible it sends us begging for God’s help?

What he’s describing here is a public humiliation. Think Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, where the protagonist Hester Prinn gets pregnant out of wedlock and is marched down the street with a red letter A sewed to her bodice. Perhaps a more relevant example comes from


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I recently had the opportunity to preach at Vox Veniae. We wrestled together with what it looks like for us to be “sent” like the Apostles were; to places that are usual, unusual and unknown. Here’s an excerpt and the audio.

What I believe was really happening here is that the place that I felt most comfortable, the usual place I go every day, was actually a place that I had been sent to by God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he changed me into a person who could sit and listen. In that time and place, the best way to be a witness was to sit and listen.

Jesus says:

…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Jesus sent his Apostles first to Jerusalem. He sends us first to that which is normal, usual. If you realize that God is sending into the “usual” places, suddenly, the regular things you do every day are infused with meaning and purpose. You get up in the morning, put on your uniform, asking “how can I help the people I see everyday know that God has not abandoned them?”

This changes everything. Suddenly there are no usual places, only people to whom God has sent you to.

Where is God sending you?