Jesus in Context:
And Calling Jesus “God’s Messiah” instead of “Jesus Christ” reminds us that Jesus, you know: He was Jewish. He had a context.
God worked through fallen humanity to create a people for himself, Israel. Even though Israel broke relationship with him, he kept a remnant for himself out of them, out of that remnant, Jesus came: the ideal faithful Israelite, and because of that, the ideal person, who redefines what it means to be a person. Those of us who trust him, we’re given the spirit to live up to God’s best blueprint for personhood, Jesus, and we become like him, and take on all his mission and purpose and suffering in the world, so that the rest of the world can find their way out of the quicksand that we all get trapped in.
And we Christians, who trust this Messiah, become, of course, the branches God holds out to those who are sinking.
Shame is complex thing. It’s both an experience and a feeling. We are shamed–made to be “lesser than,” made small. We feel ashamed–regretful, embarrassed, dehumanized for all sorts of reasons. I grew up deeply ashamed of my family’s poverty and our drama and chaos; I discovered far too early in life that we were poor, and that I was less than those who weren’t. And like everyone, I learned to be ashamed of myself because others first shamed me. We learn shame, we’re taught it, and stamped with it: it isn’t inherit in us. But it is common to humanity, and for far too many of us, it has defined who we are, our shame has directed our steps for too long, it has chained us and whipped us.
For someone to be ashamed of us is for them to say that our very presence takes away from them. Our existence makes their existence less joyful, less wonderful, less pleasing. Shame is personal, and if someone is ashamed of us, they are someone we care about–because shame requires familiarity–you can’t be ashamed of someone you don’t know. You can be dismissive, frustrated, but not ashamed. The context for shame is intimacy. To be ashamed of someone is to communicate that you are more important than them, and that they are diminishing your importance, your value, and your goodness. It’s to wish they didn’t exist, because if only they didn’t exist, all would be well with your life.
And this line of this passage has been difficult for me. Shame is a tool of the devil; shame is evil’s creative work, undoing the good God makes of everything He touches.
The opposite of shame, I think, is something like advocacy. To say that no matter what you do, say, or become, I will use my power to pull you alongside with me. I will stand with you, and hold you against me, because you are mine and I am yours. This reminds me of Jesus. This is safe, and powerful, this is neverforsaking love, right? To know that God is not ashamed of us is basic to any ability we have to live freely and fully alive in the Lord. But we have this line, today’s sentence; what do we do with it?
~Post written by Rich Hagopian