Shame, vulnerability & faith

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Sara de Moor writes:

Shame: The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

As Christians we believe that we—and this world—are flawed. We see evidence of brokenness all around us. This is the reality of living in a fallen world. But the next step, after the “therefore” in the definition of shame, is what is most destructive—and untrue. Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. This is a direct opposite of the way Paul follows his statement of the universality of sin in Romans 3:23-24: “… since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”.

Shame makes it tremendously difficult for us to live out our belief that we are God’s beloved children, and that He loves us just the way we are. We have worth not because of what we do or don’t do, but simply because God created us in his Image. We have been redeemed by God’s grace, through Christ’s death and resurrection while we were still sinners, and God partners with us in His plan of redemption. As Reformed folks, our covenant theology emphasizes that God acts first, and that we respond to His sovereign grace out of gratitude. It sounds simplistic, but we cannot love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves if we don’t believe we are valuable, worthy of love and belonging, from God and from others. And this is not simply an individual, psychological concern; our shame and disconnection from God and others also inhibits our ability to embrace our callings as children of God, as co-workers in God’s Kingdom of reconciliation, because it stymies confidence and risk-taking. If we don’t believe we are worth anything and that we will fail at anything we attempt, why would we believe we could or should try to live obedient lives of service? I see this lack of confidence and resistance to following God’s call in our lives all the time in campus ministry, and it is destructive not only to individuals’ personal lives, but also to their ability to fully embrace their God-given gifts and use them for his Kingdom…

For the rest of the essay, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitude produces melancholy

IMG_1506“Solitude produces melancholy” by Martin Luther

“More and graver sins are committed in solitude than in the society of one’s fellow men. The devil deceived Eve in paradise when she was alone.

Murder, robbery, theft, fornication, and adultery are committed in solitude, for solitude provides the devil with occasion and opportunity.

On the other hand, a person who is with others and in the society of his fellow men is either ashamed to commit a crime or does not have the occasion and opportunity to do so.

Christ promised, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’

Christ was alone when the devil tempted Him. David was alone and idle when he slipped into adultery and murder. I too have discovered that I am never so likely to fall into sins as when I am by myself.

God created man for society and not for solitude. This may be supported by the argument that He created two sexes, male and female.

Likewise God founded the Christian Church, the communion of saints, instituted the Sacraments, preaching, and consolations in the Church.

Solitude produces melancholy. When we are alone the worst and saddest things come to mind. We reflect in detail upon all sorts of evils.

And if we have encountered adversity in our lives, we dwell upon it as much as possible, magnify it, think that no one is so unhappy as we are, and imagine the worst possible consequences.

In short, when we are alone, we think of one thing and another, we leap to conclusions, and we interpret everything in the worst light.
On the other hand, we imagine that other people are very happy, and it distresses us that things go well with them and evil with us.”