We go to great lengths to cover our sin. We hide it, deny it, justify it, psychologize it, and rationalize it.
Perhaps we are even so far removed from our sin that we call it by a different name altogether. We make ‘mistakes’, we are ‘inclined’ toward certain things, we have a ‘tendency’ to get angry, we are in the bad ‘habit’ of lying, gossiping and cheating. And perhaps we do this unconsciously because the word ‘sin’ makes us uncomfortable. Sin often travels with his big brother Shame and we’d do almost anything not to have Shame around. Psychologists have gone so far as to convince us that we need not have shame at all, only ‘repressions and inhibitions’.
C.S. Lewis said this of shame, “Unless Christianity is wholly false, the perception of ourselves which we have in moments of shame must be the only true one….In trying to extirpate shame, we have broken down of the ramparts of the human spirit.”
Shame literally means ‘to cover’ and it’s one of the most uncomfortable human emotions that exists, which is why we avoid it like the plague.
Shame is the painful feeling that arises from the consciousness of something dishonorable, disgraceful, humiliating. Shame makes us seek cover. It makes of want to shrink to nothing.
Lewis claims that we as a civilization have lost our ability to know real shame and thus lost our ability to appreciate the depth of our depravity.
But we’ve all been there. We’ve all been guilty of that ‘thing’ which we hope noone ever finds out, ’that ugly and mean action which not even the worst of our friends would have done.’
Lewis says, ”At such a moment we really do know that our character, as revealed to us in this action, is, and ought to be, hateful to all good men, and to God.”
And then he makes a leap that I’m still wrestling with in my mind.
He entertains the thought that though our sins are forgiven fully in Christ, they are not washed out by time. Time does not cancel them. His argument is that all times are present to God and perhaps it’s possible that He forever sees you ‘lying and lusting and in that moment of cowardice.’ “It may be that salvation consists not in the canceling of these eternal moments but in the perfected humanity that bears the shame forever, rejoicing in the occasion which it furnished to God’s compassion and glad that it should be common knowledge to the universe.”
“Perhaps the lost are those who dare not go to such a public place.”
So, my question to us all is this; why will we do almost anything to prevent ourselves from being exposed, from feeling shame?”
Why do we so violently protect our ‘good’ name and ‘good’ reputation. I suspect we have not plumbed the depths of our own sinful heart.
But it is at that precise moment—-in our despair—-that our hearts can perceive the need for forgiveness. It is on the bedrock of guilt and shame that we can know true Rescue. Our brokenness and disgrace has brought death, a literal wasting away, and now the mercy and compassion of Christ can raise us to life. Shame is not our enemy. He may well be the gatekeeper to our freedom and joy.
“The perfected humanity that bears the shame forever…..”—–that will take a Divine intervention.
All ideas and quotes taken from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis