A Shame

"When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room." (Luke 14:8-9, emphasis mine)

Ashamed of ourselves

Shame. What does that word give rise to in your mind? Between you and I, shame should have no place in a church. As any shameworthy sin committed is necessarily between you (or me) and God first, shame really should have no place, at all, anywhere. Yes, there are things we do that we're not proud of. Our sensitivities are attuned, it seems, to the will-o'-the-wisp whims of faceless society. And shame can be like blood in those deep waters. But here's the thing. Only God sees our imperfections, our cracks and our sin. No one else does. And He always sees them in the light of love and understanding. And if you--you get a notion that someone sees where you're not perfect, and they--they are not in tune with God and are anything less than loving toward you, their "insight" into your psyche is askew. Besides, God's not going to reveal anything to someone if they aren't going to intercede for you. Same goes for you toward them.

"And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without." (Genesis 9:22)

Serious stuff is about to happen. Rewinding a tad and laying the baseline, serious stuff just did happen. The two previous chapters in Genesis illustrate the flood story. Chapter seven opens with "And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." Evidently God had been watching and out of all those on earth, Noah was the one who had endeavored to please Him, forsaking all others. Chapter eight, verse one: "And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;" The rest of the chapter details the raven and the dove and Noah building an altar to the Lord and the Lord promising "neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done." (verse 21) It would seem Noah became somewhat of a viticulturist/sommelier in his retirement. It says "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent." (9:20-21) And so one of his sons, rather than covering his fathers nakedness proceeds to tell his brothers about it. This is the wrong response.

"Because for Thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon me." (Psalm 69:7-9)

I am become a stranger unto my brethren


I can imagine Ham felt the same way. His brothers Shem and Japheth covered Noah. It says that they "took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness." (Genesis 9:23) As if it even needs stating, Noah made a mistake. Obvious too, is the fact that God had just used Noah to save all the fauna the world over. Anytime we see something about someone that is essentially akin to nakedness, we are the ones to cover it before the Lord. This is Gospel. We see it and we get the privilege of interceding for them before God. It's God who showed it to us in the first place. Paul, in his letter to the Romans (it says "For even Christ pleased not Himself", see 15:3) identifies the above passage from the psalms with Jesus.

"I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me." (Psalm 22:16)

That Psalm is referring to Him as well. Jesus had nothing on when He was crucified. Adding insult to injury, those in authority wanted to pile on as much shame and condemnation to His already sad state. And yet, when we see Him on the cross, the reason why "we hid as it were our faces from Him" (Isaiah 53:3) is because it's our shame that He is taking to the grave with Him.

Beginning with shame

When Jesus says, in the very top verse, "He that bade thee and him", it's talking about being a servant to others. About humbling oneself and taking the place of the least while Jesus inevitably comes in and lifts you up. "Friend, go up higher:" (Luke 14:10) And then, one of the most interesting wordings on the subject follows in the King James. It says "then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee." The word translated "worship" is translated elsewhere as "glory".

Any shame one feels, for whatever reason, was borne by Jesus. He left it in the grave when He rose from the dead. Don't be fooled into thinking you have to carry or bear it--that was His responsibility. If we've humbled ourselves before God, we needn't feel shame. And if we haven't yet humbled ourselves, it behooves us to start.

Engines of Vengeance

Boughs Breaking