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Craig Smith - Chronic Shame


Craig Smith - Chronic Shame
TOPICS: Come Find Your Mercy, Shame

And I love the line in that song. We didn’t sing it today but last few weeks we’ve done the full version we have. The line is, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.” I love that line. For the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about heaven’s remedy for one of our most persistent sorrows, one of our most persistent pain. And I’m talking about the pain of shame. As we define it in this series, shame is the persistent feeling that we’re unworthy of love and belonging. It’s different than guilt. Guilt says we need forgiveness because what we’ve done is wrong. Shame says you need forgiveness but you’re probably never going to get it because God doesn’t want anything to do with you. That’s shame.

For the last few weeks, we’ve talked about shame that comes primarily from the things that we’ve done, from the sin that we’ve committed. Today, we’re going to talk about a different kind of shame. Today, we’re gonna talk about a shame that comes not from the things that we’ve done, but from actually things that have just happened to us, things that we’re not actually responsible for. And I realize some of you may go, “Well, I don’t understand why anybody would feel shame for something that they don’t have any responsibility for. That doesn’t even seem rational.” But the thing is, since when does it have to be rational to be real, right? The reality is that a lot of the things that make us feel isolated, that make us feel alone, that make us feel unable and then ultimately even unworthy of experiencing love and belonging are actually things that we don’t have any control over. Let me show you what I mean.

I want you to go ahead and grab a Bible and start making your way to the Gospel of Mark and we’re gonna be in Mark chapter five. And by the way, if you’ve never downloaded the Mission Hills app, I encourage you to do that. Not only can you follow along with the Scripture, but you can even see the message notes right there and have them in front of you and add your own notes in. So that’s a great way to kind of keep track of what we’re doing. Mark chapter five, we’re gonna see today a story from the life of Jesus that…it’s a powerful story. It’s a story about a woman who was suffering from shame. She was suffering from a sickness, but she was also suffering from shame. She was living under the shade of shame and unable to experience God’s grace and his goodness. Mark chapter 5, starting in verse 25, describes the woman this way. It says, “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors, and it’s been all she had. And yet, instead of getting better, she grew worse.”

This woman with a chronic condition, right? I don’t know exactly what the cutoff for chronic is but if you’ve been dealing with something for 12 years, you’ve got a chronic condition. Can we agree on that? Now, we don’t know exactly what her condition was. Mark kind of skirts the issue a little bit for probably a pretty good reason. And that is that most of us believe that what he’s talking about here is actually a chronic menstrual condition. She’s basically been menstruating for 12 years. Anybody uncomfortable yet? Yeah? Good. And not that I really want you to be uncomfortable but if we don’t feel a little bit comfortable with this description of what she was experiencing, then there’s no way we can really begin to grasp the depth of what she was experiencing and how painful it was. It wasn’t just a painful physical condition. It was also a painful social condition.

Because in the first century Jewish world, a woman who was menstruating was considered ceremonially unclean. And there were all kinds of things that she couldn’t be part of or participating. She couldn’t go to the temple to offer sacrifices for sin. She couldn’t go to the synagogue to worship God. She couldn’t get married. She couldn’t hang out with people. She even had to be careful when she went to the market just to get food because in the ancient Jewish world, when somebody was unclean, they were also communicable. It was a communicable condition. You can make other people unclean by touching them.

And even some first century rabbis actually taught that even if a woman’s shadow fell on someone when she was menstruating, then they were unclean, too. And they had to go through the purification rituals. So even something as simple as going to the market to buy bread was a risky endeavor. And then what that means is she wasn’t just dealing with a chronic sickness, she was really, she was dealing with chronic shame. Because the reality is that that shame isolates us, but isolation also shames us. The more time we spend in isolation, the more that shame becomes a cloud that we’re living under. And chronic conditions do that. The reality is that chronic conditions breed shame. They do. Chronic conditions breed shame. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Some of you may not have thought about it like that, but here’s a couple reasons why chronic conditions tend to breed shame in people. First is just this. It’s because chronic conditions make the unafflicted uncomfortable, right? People who don’t have the condition are uncomfortable around the person who does. And if somebody gets sick, right, and it’s a temporary sickness, it’s easy. We’re sympathetic. We’re empathetic. “You know, how are you doing? Are you feeling better today? I’ll get you some chicken noodle soup.” Right? That’s great if it’s a short sickness, but if somebody is chronically sick, it gets a little uncomfortable. It’s like, “Oh, you’re still sick? I don’t know what to say to you. I don’t know what to do around you. Do I ask about it again? Are you tired of talking about it?” It gets uncomfortable. It gets awkward. And that begins to create a sense of isolation and, ultimately, shame.

The other reason I think that chronic conditions breed shame is simply because those with chronic conditions often feel like a burden to others. They feel bad. They can’t do what other people can do and they’re afraid that they’re kind of cramping everybody else’s style. Or they have to do certain things to be able to function that are inconvenient and so they begin to feel like a burden. When my youngest daughter was struggling with chronic abdominal issues, we saw this that, you know, she had to avoid certain foods and it changed the kind of way we were cooking. Or that she had to do certain things that she could function well and that kind of kept her out of things, or it just felt like it was an inconvenience from her perspective for the rest of the family. And so she often felt like a burden. And here’s the thing, it’s really hard to feel like you belong when you feel like a burden. Chronic conditions do that. They breed shame.

Now, I’m gonna ask you to do something before we go on in the story. I want to ask you to think about your chronic condition. Because I actually think we all struggle with chronic conditions of one type or another. They might be medical like this woman’s. You might be struggling with a chronic medical condition, but it may not be medical. There’s a lot of other chronic conditions that we struggle. They might be a mental condition. You might struggle with a chronic mental condition like anxiety or depression or some kind of mental illness. Or maybe it’s a behavioral condition. Maybe you have a really bad temper that you can’t seem to shake or maybe it’s something like sleep. I’ve been struggling with a chronic sleep issue for about 10 years now.

Or maybe it’s financial. Maybe it’s a chronic financial condition that you just can’t seem to get ahead financially. You’re drowning in debt, and everything you do just seems to kind of lead to more debt and you’re ashamed of that. Maybe it’s a parenting issue or something else. But the point is, there’s all kinds of chronic issues. A chronic issue is just really anything that we feel the weight of, but we can’t seem to get out. And no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get out. And we’ve tried, right? This poor woman, she spent everything she had, and it hasn’t gotten any better. It’s actually gotten worse, right? So not only is she broken in her body but she’s broke. We have these issues that we struggle under the weight and we can’t quite get out of them.

And what I want you to do is I want you to ask yourself this question. What chronic condition am I dealing with? What’s your chronic condition? And then a little bit harder one is, and what shame am I feeling because of it? For some of you, that’s going to be an easy one. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Whatever chronic condition that you’re struggling with comes to mind, you immediately know that you feel a certain amount of shame. You’re living under the shade of the shame of that thing. Some of you may not have thought about it that way. You may have never used that particular kind of language. Sometimes shame sneaks up on us.

You know, I said that I struggle with sleep for about 10 years. And I remember I had been struggling with it for two or three years. And then I was in our Life Group and we were all kind of sharing how we could pray for each other. And I had a really bad couple of weeks. And so, you know, when it got to me, Coletta looked at me like, “You’re gonna tell them, right?” And I was like, “No.” And I was thinking, “Why is that? Why didn’t I want them to know? I mean, I believe in the power of prayer. I know, you know, they love me and I love them and they’d be happy to pray. Why wouldn’t I want to tell them that I was having a struggle? Why wouldn’t I want them praying for me?”

And I realized that I was feeling ashamed. There was just something about it that felt like I’m weak somehow because I’m having this problem. I’m somehow not everything that I’m supposed to be. That I’m broken in some way. And I realized there was shame and I hadn’t realized that initially, but it had crept in. And so some of you will immediately go, “Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Yeah, I feel the shame of this condition.” Some of you may not have ever put that language to it, but you may discover that it’s actually there. And the reason I want us to think about our chronic conditions is because I think that the way Jesus interacts with this woman actually provides tremendous hope when we’re dealing with chronic issues.

She spent everything she had, and she is broke. And she’s not any better. Numbers 27 says, “When she heard about Jesus,” I’m just gonna pause there for a second because you can imagine her world, right? Her world is pretty dark. But then somebody lit a match and she had hope, right? She heard about Jesus. She heard there’s this guy, right? He tells lame people to walk and they get up and they walk. He tells blind people to open their eyes and they see. He tells the deaf to hear and they hear his voice. He tells the lepers be cleansed and their skin is made new again. He tells people with shriveled hands to hold their hands out to him and they’re whole by the time they get out, close to Jesus. He tells the dead to rise and they get up. She hears about Jesus. She hears about this amazing man and hope enters into her world.

But here’s the thing about hope for people with chronic conditions. Hope is a dangerous thing. It’s a scary thing, actually. Because any of us who’ve ever dealt with any kind of a chronic issue know what it’s like to have a whole bunch of false hopes. “Oh, maybe this thing will help. Maybe this thing will fix it. Maybe if I just do this, it’ll get better.” And over and over and over again, those things ultimately failed to deliver on the promise. And so we’re so acquainted with disappointment that hope becomes actually a dangerous thing. We don’t want it because hope opens us up to heartbreak. But she can’t really help it. She hears about Jesus and hope enters into her world. And she does something about it. She acts on it.

It’s interesting to see what she did. It says this, “She came up behind him in the crowd and she touched his cloak. Because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.'” And that’s such a powerful statement. It speaks to the power of her hope, but also the power of her shame, doesn’t it? It speaks to the power of her hope because she went. She got up. She left her house during the day when people were about and she had to worry about whether or not she would communicate her uncleanness to them. She actually went into a crowd of people and she had to push her way through the crowd touching people or jostling around her to get up close to Jesus. She touched Jesus. She touched a holy man’s cloak. As an unclean woman, she touched a holy man’s clothes. She had to know that if she was discovered, there would be consequences. If the crowd figured out who she was and what she was doing by making her way through that crowd, there would be bad consequences for her bad behavior. But the fact that she went, that’s the power of her hope.

At the same time, what she did also speaks the power of her shame, doesn’t it? Because this is not the approved approach for asking for a miracle. Can we just say that? She goes incognito. She sneaks up behind him in the crowd. She’s got the shawl over her head so nobody can see. And she just, she finally gets to that place and she reaches out and she touches his cloak. That’s the power of shame at work, right? She doesn’t dare fall at his feet, so she sneaks up behind him. She’s basically acting like a pickpocket, right?

If you think about it, she’s basically trying to pickpocket a miracle from Jesus. That’s not how you’re supposed to do it but that’s the power of the voice of shame. That’s what shame is saying to her, right? And what we see here is we see the battle between hope and shame. We see two different voices that are shouting at each other in her heart and in her mind at this moment. And hope says, “Jesus could help me.” But shame says, “Yeah, maybe. But why would he? What makes you think Jesus would want anything to do with you? What makes you think that a holy man like Jesus, a godly man like Jesus would have anything to do with an unclean woman like you?”

But the thing is she wins this battle, doesn’t she? She wins this battle, not necessarily the war. I’m not saying she’s won the war on shame because it’s clear to me that shame is still alive and well in her life. Yeah, she’s able to get up and go. But again, she does it incognito. She does it behind his back rather than falling at his feet. That’s because the voice of shame is still saying, “What are you doing? What makes you think he would want anything to do with you? What makes you think this is okay?” But she does something really powerful. Even though she hears that voice, she ultimately says, “You don’t get the final vote.” She hears the voice of shame but she says, “I hear your voice but you don’t get the final vote.” And she comes, right?

And I think that’s just so powerful. Because I think in that actually, we’re given a pretty good example of how it is that God calls us to deal with the voice of shame. Whether it’s shame from the things that we’ve done or the things that have happened to us, it doesn’t matter. We have to deal with it kind of the same way. We have to say to shame the same thing that we say to things like fear and doubt and insecurity. We have to say to shame, “I hear your voice, but you don’t get the final vote. You don’t get to decide how I will live. You don’t get to determine how I will move forward.” That’s what we have to do with shame. We have to say, “I hear your voice. But you don’t get the final vote in my life.” So she comes forward. And she pushes her way through the crowd and she touches his cloak and immediately, Mark says, immediately her bleeding stops. And she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Can you imagine how she must have felt in that moment? I mean, the terror of going out in public during the day and finding that a huge crowd and then pulling the shawl down a little farther hoping that nobody would see her and bent over but beginning to push your way and touching all these people knowing what would be coming her way if they understood what she was doing. And finally getting herself all the way up to the front and Jesus is walking and she just, she gets her nerve up and she reaches out and she touches his cloak. And the moment she touches his cloak, she feels something is different. Immediately, she realized she’s been freed from her suffering. Can you imagine for 12 years nonstop struggling with this issue? She touches Jesus’ cloak and her suffering, done. She touches Jesus’ cloak and her pain, done.

Can you imagine her in that moment touching his cloak, feeling that and just stopping in her tracks as Jesus continues forward and the crowd fills in the space between them? Which is exactly what she wants, right? She wants to stay anonymous. She wants to stay incognito. Yeah, Jesus, you just keep going with the crowd, keep going. Unfortunately, at once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. And he turned around in the crowd and he asked, “Who touched my clothes?” Can you imagine how she felt in that moment? I mean, what a roller coaster, right? She touched his clothes and immediately she was better. And then Jesus stops and looks around and says, “Who did that?” And her heart just sinks.

I love the way the disciples responded. They said, “You see the people crowding against you and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?'” I love that. They’re like, “Everyone. Everyone touched you. What are you talking about?” And Jesus just kind of ignores them. Mark says, “But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. And then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet. And trembling with fear told him the whole truth.” Such an interesting statement, right? She didn’t tell him the truth. She told him the whole truth. Why the whole truth? Why does Mark say, why the whole truth? And the answer is because she can’t just tell him what she did, she has to tell him why she did it. And she has to tell him why she did it the way that she did it. She has to confess, not just her sickness but her shame.

She has to confess that she’s unclean and that she pushed through the crowd and that she touched a holy man’s clothes as an unclean woman. She has to tell the whole truth. And that’s why she’s trembling with fear. And also, it’s not just Jesus she’s got to deal with, right, there’s the whole crowd of people listening to her tell the whole truth. And then she says the whole truth, then begins to hear the crowd muttering. “She’s unclean? Why is she here? What does she think she’s doing? Did she touch me? Am I unclean? How do I even know? Do I have to go through the purification rituals? Those are expensive. Do I have to pay that price just because I might… I can’t believe she did that. She did that to all… Like who does she think she is?” And probably she’s also beginning to hear people say something like, “Stone her. Stone her.” Because that was perfectly within keeping with Jewish custom in that century.

And she begins to hear those voices calling for the bad consequences of her bad behavior. And the muttering gets louder and the calls for stoning her get more and more amped up and then Jesus holds up his hand. And everybody gets quiet, waiting for him to give her the business, right? They’re waiting for Jesus to hand down the bad consequences of her bad behavior. He holds up his hand and everybody quiets. And he looks at her and he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” That is not what they were expecting. They were expecting anger, and Jesus handed down something very different, right? Three things to pay attention to on what He said here. First, pay attention to what he called her. What did he call her? He called her “daughter.” That’s term of affection. As near as I can tell, it’s the only time Jesus ever called a woman that. He says, “Your faith didn’t just heal you, your faith made you part of my family.”

This is so powerful. The crowd was expecting anger and Jesus delivered affection. And it’s not the only time we see that, right? We actually see this time and time again throughout Jesus’ ministry. So important to understand. Hard to understand, but so important that we get a handle on Jesus extends affection where shame tells us to expect anger. Do you hear me, church? Jesus extends affection where shame says we’re only able to expect anger. Shame says, “Don’t go. Don’t step forward. Don’t take that risk. Because God’s just gonna be mad. God’s people are just gonna be mad. Don’t do that.” And yet, when we do it, what we get is affection instead of anger. That’s powerful.

Second thing I think we need to pay attention to is that he said, “Your faith has healed you.” Not your belief, right? So she believed the moment that she heard. She heard, “Oh, he made the lame to walk. He made the blind see. He raised dead people.” Okay, she believed he could help. But belief is not faith. Belief is a good starting point. It’s a necessary component. Belief itself is not enough. Intellectual understanding itself is just not enough. I mean, it’s interesting. In the Book of James, the half-brother of Jesus writing to his church said, “Hey, you believe that God is one and you believe that he’s powerful and he’s capable and all those things?” He says, “That’s great that you believe that. But you know what? Even the demons believe that. And they shudder at the thought.”

Belief is a good start, but it’s not enough. Faith, however, is belief in motion, right? That’s what faith is. It’s belief in motion. It’s the belief of a woman that thinks that he could help me, who silences the voice of shame that says, “Yeah, but why would he?” And she gets up and she takes risks. She goes. That’s belief in motion. And the reality is that faith almost always involves some kind of a risk. If faith doesn’t involve some kind of a risk, there’s not really much trust involved in it, right? And she takes that risk. She takes that step of faith. She put her belief into motion and Jesus says, “Your faith has healed you.” It’s so important to understand, Jesus will always respond to faith. Jesus always responds to faith. Jesus loves faith. Jesus is all over faith. He always responds to it.

Not always. Let me be honest, not always in exactly the way that we’re hoping for. Not always in exactly the way that we took the step of faith, expecting him to respond. Sometimes we get that. Sometimes we get other good things that we weren’t necessarily expecting. But he always responds to faith. We’re learning this in my family. My youngest daughter went through the chronic abdominal issues, but she shamed me, honestly. It’s probably not the right word to use in this series. She humbled me. Let’s go with that one. She humbled me in the midst of that, when we were praying for her to be healed, saying, “I’m still praying for God to heal me, but not before he’s taught me what he needs to teach me in this.” I was like, “Who are you? Like, that’s not fair. How did you get that kind of wisdom?” Well, she actually got that kind of wisdom going through it, honestly. God was working something in her heart that she wanted to lean into and embrace. And I’m so proud of her for that.

God was responding to her faith. He was doing things. They weren’t what we were praying for but he’s doing really good things that, looking back, we’re like, “I’m so glad that he did that.” We’re not perfect on this one. We’re still kind of learning this reality. Jesus always responds to faith, but not necessarily always in the way that we expect. Just the other night my oldest daughter was over and she’s having some jaw pain from something. So we prayed that God would heal her and I said, “Amen.” And my youngest daughter went, “If it’s God’s will, right?” Yes.

Because, again, God might do something in the midst of this that’s maybe even better than the initial healing that we’re asking for. But listen, God will always respond to faith. He will always respond to faith. And if he doesn’t give you exactly what it is that you came to him in faith looking for, I promise you what he gives you will be ultimately better. You may not be able to see that in that moment, but I promise one day, you’re gonna look back and go, “I see what you’re doing there.” It will be better, I promise you.

Third thing that’s interesting about what Jesus says here is he says, “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” “Go in peace and be freed,” not, “And you are freed.” He says, “Be freed.” It’s a command. In the original Greek, it’s actually a homework assignment. He says, “Okay, your faith has healed you. Now, here’s what you got to do. Go be freed from your suffering.” Why would He say that? Because she’s already freed from her suffering, right? In fact, that’s exactly what Mark said earlier. He said, “Immediately after she touched his cloak, she knew that she was freed from her suffering.” So why would Jesus say, “Now you got to make a choice. Now you got some homework to do. You got to go out and you got to be freed from your suffering.” Why would he say that? And the answer is because he’s not talking about her sickness. He’s talking about her shame. He’s talking about the cloud of shame that she’s been living under because he knows that even though he has taken care of shame’s cause, she still has the potential to live under its cloud. And so he says, “You can’t do that.” He says, “I’ve taken care of shame’s cause in your life. But you have to choose to step out from under its cloud.”

That’s powerful. And it’s something that I think we all have to recognize. It’s a truth that we all have to deal with as followers of Jesus or as people who maybe wouldn’t call them as followers of Jesus, but they’re struggling with maybe making that next step of faith and becoming a follower. Here’s what we got to recognize is that Jesus will free us from shame’s cause, but we have to choose to step out from under its cloud. We have to choose to say, “Yeah, I hear your voice but, sorry, you don’t get the final vote in my life anymore.” Jesus will free us from shame’s cause, but we have to decide whether or not to step out from under its cloud. He will free us from its cause whether it’s sin, that he’s already set us free from. He died on the cross to pay for our sin. He rose from the dead to prove that he had done it. He’s offered us new life, power through the Holy Spirit in our lives. He has already set us free from shame’s cause when we’re talking about sin.

And yet, as followers of Jesus, we often find ourselves still clinging to shame of what we’ve done. Like somehow, we have to make up for it. And I know I couldn’t earn my way to salvation. I’m so grateful that God was willing to save me. But now somehow, we’re still living under the shade of shame. We can’t do that anymore. And I think this is also true when the shame comes from things that we don’t have any control over, things we haven’t done, these chronic conditions that we all struggle with. And you go, “Oh, wait a minute. If I’m still struggling with it, then he hasn’t set me free from it.” I promise you, he’s in the business of doing that. He’s in the midst of doing that. And maybe you won’t be fully freed from that sickness or that condition, or whatever it is on this life. But I promise you, it’s coming. There’s a day coming when Jesus returns and he makes all things new and he wipes every tear and he wipes away every sickness.

And if that’s what’s going to be true, if it’s absolutely certain that that’s going to be true, then I think we’re called even now to begin living out from under the shade that that condition tries to throw over us. Listen, he either has or he’s in the midst of or he is absolutely going to, Jesus will free us from shame’s cause. We have to decide to step out from under its shade.

Two questions for you. I’ve already asked the first but let’s go back. Let’s think about it in this perspective. What chronic condition is the source of the most shame for me? What’s your condition? Maybe it’s a medical condition, a mental condition. Maybe it’s a behavioral condition, maybe it’s a parenting condition or a work condition or a finance, whatever it is. What’s the one thing that’s just weighing you down and you just can’t seem to get out from under it?

And then here’s the second question. What step of faith is shame trying to shout me out of taking? Maybe it’s just having a conversation with somebody. Maybe it’s being honest that you’re struggling with this thing. Maybe it’s sharing with your Life Group. Maybe it’s getting involved in a Life Group so that you have somebody to share it with. Maybe it’s reaching out to somebody for help. I’ve had several conversations between services today, people come and go on, “I just need to talk about something that’s been weighing me down for years. Can I talk to you?”

And what I always tell people in a case like that is, “Yeah. I’m probably not the best person to get you help. You can either have me or you can have help. I’m not a great counselor, but, you know, absolutely.” And so we started making appointments. I’m going to be having several of those conversations, but I may not be the best person. If not, we can connect you to the right person. We have counselors here. We have an amazing care team here. They’re just amazing followers of Jesus here who would love to come alongside you. So maybe it’s you need to reach out for help.

Or maybe you’re here today or you’re listening to this message today in some part of the world and you’re not a follower of Jesus yet. And maybe what’s kept you from taking that step of faith is that shame is shouting you back from that step. But here’s the thing. Sometimes the step that shame is shouting us back from taking is the last step that we have to take before we can walk into everything that God has for us. And so we cannot allow shame to keep us from taking that step. So what is the step? What would it look like for you to take it? Would you pray with me?

God, as a follower of Jesus, speaking on behalf of a whole lot of brothers and sisters who are followers of Jesus, we just thank you for this event from the life of Jesus. Thank you for this woman. Thank you for her courage, for her example of hearing the voice of shame but refusing to give it the final vote. And thank you so much for what we see Jesus do in response to her faith. Because it gives us confidence that any shame we’re living under, that’s not what you intend for us. It’s not how life needs to be, that you have affection other than anger. So, as followers of Jesus, we ask that the power of your Holy Spirit would move in us and show us those places where shame has a hold in our lives, whether it’s from things that we’ve done, or things that have just happened to us, that they’re shading us from the light of your love. Would you give us courage through your spirit to take the step of faith that you put in our hearts right now and to move forward into what you have for us?


As followers of Jesus, too, we just pray right now, all of us together we pray for those who are watching this video, they’re listening to this podcast, they’re joining us online right now, and they’re not followers of Jesus, we’re praying for them right now. And if that’s you, if you’re listening to this and you wouldn’t count yourself as a follower of Jesus, my question to you is, “Why not? Is there some thing, maybe some shame in you that says, ‘Yeah, I think maybe Jesus could help me? I just have a hard time believing that he would.'” See, that’s the voice of shame. And I can promise you that it’s a lie. Shame is a liar. I know it because I know that God loves you. He loves you so much he sent his own Son, Jesus, to pay the price of your sin. Jesus lived a perfect life so he didn’t have any sin to pay for. He died on the cross as a substitute for our sin. That’s how much he loves us. That’s how little shame God thinks that we should be feeling because of our sin.

Jesus died for our sin. Three days later, He rose from the dead to prove that he had accomplished what he set out to do. And now he offers us new life. He offers us forgiveness, a relationship with God, a life that we live now and forever in the light of his mercy, his grace, his love, his goodness. But we have to translate our belief in what Jesus did into faith. We have to put it into motion. The way we do that is we just make a decision to say yes to following Jesus. If you’ve never done that, maybe now is the time. Maybe now is the time to put belief into motion. And here’s how you do it. You’re just gonna have a conversation with God in your heart. Just say something like this to him right now. Say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying for my sin. I believe you did that. I also believe that you rose from the dead. And I understand even though it’s hard to believe that you’re offering me forgiveness, acceptance, affection, eternal life. So, Jesus, I’m putting my belief into motion right now. I’m making a decision to put my faith in Jesus. Jesus, I’m gonna follow you now and forever. Amen.

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