"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) (emphasis mine)
This passage has been running laps in my mind recently. Perhaps initially because of the Easter season and thinking about all Christ endured for me ... instead of me ... because of me.
But it didn't stop there. The passage has now moved on to speak deep truths about something that has recently been plaguing me: shame.
This is a weird season in life right now for me: I'm in a new town, a new house, new work location, new church, making new friends, and soon to have a new name. All of those things are blessings, but also struggles. For me "new" means unfamiliar and uncertain. While I love a good adventure, it also seems to wreak havoc on my security, and in turn my confidence. It feels kinda like this:
Everything seems like a test to prove myself. And according to me, I fail far more than I succeed. I hate it. Not so much the circumstances, but how I seem to be responding to them. And as Hebrews warns, I find I am growing weary and losing heart.
(Those two words are always the game changers.) I must "consider Him" as Hebrews instructs.
When those verses popped into my mind yet again this morning, the spotlight seemed to be on the phrase "scorning its shame." What does that even mean? I must confess I don't use the word "scorn" much. So I looked it up.
And here are a few of the synonyms:
disdain; mock; scoff at; laugh at; dismiss
Ok, enough with the etymology lesson. What's the point?
God used Merriam-Webster to teach me something.
These definitions and synonyms paint an interesting picture of Jesus' reaction and response to his difficulties. He was unjustly accused and was being put to death in the cruelest, most embarrassing way: tortured, stripped, and nailed to a cross for the world to see. It was intended to be a shameful fate. But it was not for Him.
The Bible says He not only endured it, He embraced it and willingly allowed Himself to suffer that way. And the shame that should have accompanied it? Well, He mocked it, scoffed and laughed at it, dismissed it.
Jesus. Shamed. The. Shame.
He refused to let it define Him or defeat Him. He blew it off like it had absolutely no power over Him. How? Because His self-worth was not based on any of the things that were being said or done. It was secure in the unconditional love of the Father.
I realized Jesus didn't just defeat death.
He defeated shame.
I don't seem to have any problem embracing the idea that I will get to live forever in the presence of God. After all, Jesus defeated death. It holds no power over me.
Now it's time to embrace the idea that I can also live in the security of God. After all, Jesus also defeated shame. It holds no power over me either.
Thank You, Jesus, for all You endured, for all you accomplished. Help me to receive the FULL benefit of that labor of love: to be free from the punishment of sin, to receive Your grace and mercy, and to live a life free from shame. I am unconditionally loved. Period.
Amen and amen.