When shame is too great

Shame is a powerful weapon.

Often, I will hear of or interact with people who have abandoned their convictions, their church family, or even their faith because of shame. Something happened in their lives and, rather than dealing with it, shame caused them to flee. What does God have to say about all this?

Try to imagine the most shameful thing that you could do. Picture what it would be like to be face to face with the offended party, to have to look into the eyes of your family or friends after the fact. Now, realize that it pales in comparison to this:

“you killed the Author of life…” (Acts 3:15a)

It’s hard to imagine coming back from that. Killing the Creator, eviscerating the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb, is as bad as it gets, but look at how God, through Peter, responds.

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, (Acts 3:19-20)

Pause and think about the audacity of that statement. You murdered God, so repent, turn and two things will happen.

Your sins will be blotted out.

God will put a big spot over whatever you did so that nobody will ever know. This is akin to when the CIA grabs a black sharpie and marks over all the classified information before releasing a copy to another agency. As far as everyone is concerned, it’s not there. It doesn’t say anything. It didn’t happen.

You will be refreshed in the presence of the Lord.

Yes, the LORD you killed will refresh you. He won’t exact revenge. He won’t secretly plan your demise. He won’t tolerate your presence. He won’t, in grace, allow you to work in the stables and throw you his table scraps. He will refresh you, dine with you, relax with you and enjoy your company. Even though you killed him.

The point is this, whatever shame you are carrying pales in comparison to the shame that stems from killing the Author of Life. Yet, even in that situation, God did not wave his finger in condemnation, but invited the guilty parties to come to him to have their sins blotted out forever and enjoy times of refreshing.

Come home.