Shame may well be the most destructive force that works against many people. It paralyzes us with fear and insecurity. Nothing more effectively stops us dead in our tracks and more quickly brings us to a screeching halt.
Shame sneers at us with its sharp point gouging the raw nerves of our insecurities, challenging us, “Who do you think you are? Look at yourself! How could you possibly become what you ought to be?” When we don’t know the truth, our immediate response is to lower our heads, look away from the Ever-Present-Love that holds us and then go into hiding.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, things changed for them. The Bible says, “But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3:9-10). Fear stemming from shame was the immediate result of Adam’s sin and has been the lingering problem for humanity ever since then.
Adam hid because he was naked. Imagine that. From the moment Adam and Eve were created, they’d never been anything but naked and it didn’t matter to them at all because it didn’t matter to God. Now, after eating from the forbidden tree, embarrassment and shame enters the human story. Adam and Eve imagined that God wouldn’t be accepting of them the way they were anymore.
God hadn’t changed at all. He still came for His walk as He had done every day, but Adam and Eve had changed completely. Sin had perverted their perception of God’s character so that they now imagined Him as One who would be angry and punitive toward them.
Remember this important truth: Adam’s sin did not change God; it only changed Adam. The same is true about your own life. There is nothing you have done or could ever do that would change how God feels toward you. God is love and your sin cannot negate that fact. Until you realize that God isn’t upset with you, angry with you, disappointed in you or has distanced Himself from you, peace will elude you. Freedom comes in knowing that God doesn’t run away because we’ve sinned.
God didn’t run from Adam because of his sin but instead came to Adam, seeking Him in His sin. Fail to understand that and you’ll find yourself thinking like Adam, imagining a god who retreats from your sins rather than approaching you in your sins to make things right for you. The religious world may tell you that God will remove Himself from your sin, but Adam’s situation shows differently. Your Father rushes to you in your sin to rescue you from it. That’s the very reason for the incarnation of Jesus Christ!
Sin caused Adam and Eve to become self-conscious and decided they needed to embark on a self-improvement program. Thus came the birth of religion – the attempt to make ourselves more acceptable to God by doing the things we think He would require of us in order for us to be acceptable to Him. The whole thing is ridiculous. God accepts us just like we are. Adam and Eve weren’t hiding from God. They were hiding from some imaginary god they concocted in their newly darkened minds. They were cringing before somebody that doesn’t even exist. Can you see the foolishness of the whole thing? From that day in the garden until Jesus came, humanity was trapped in shame and embarrassment.
Jesus came to free us from the dark legacy of shame and embarrassment left to us by Adam. He came to announce the good news that there is no condemnation toward us – none. You may feel shame at times, but it’s only an illusion. “Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything” (1John 3:20). This verse reminds us that we sometimes can’t trust our emotions, but we can trust God. He knows that we are totally forgiven. The shame-game is over – finished.
Once and for all, we can stop fearing some scary god-of-our-own-making who looks at us with disappointment or irritation. It’s an infantile fantasy. There is no divine bogey-man under the cosmic bed of your existence that is going to come out and get you.
You don’t have to change. You don’t have to be afraid. You don’t have to hide. And you certainly don’t have to be ashamed. Your Father loves and adores you just the way you are. So come out, come out, wherever you are. Somebody is waiting to give you a Hug. He longs to laugh with you. He wants you to feel His embrace and revel in His acceptance for all eternity. Shake off shame. You belong in the conscious awareness of your permanent place in our Father’s embrace. That embrace will transform your life.