Monday, April 19, 2010

Living in Shame

Last night, Pastor Dave Dayhoff preached a wonderful message on I Corinthians 1:18-25. One of the main themes of the message was the foolishness of God. Quite honestly, we don't often talk about the foolishness of God very much. Pastor Dayhoff explained how the cross was foolishness.

Did you know that in addition to the excruciating pain associated with crucifixion, was horrible shame? It's true. Crucifixion was so shameful that it was a punishment made restricted to only slaves and insurrectionists? A Roman Citizen never would have been given the sentence of crucifixion, regardless of how horrible a crime he or she committed. Death by cross was such a horrible thing that it was taboo for people to even talk about it.

For the Jews, anyone who was hung on a tree was cursed. Crucifixion was so horrible, that the only way a person would be killed in that way was if God had cursed them and intetionally put them there. It was impossible for the messiah to be crucified, for the messiah could not be cursed.

The death of Jesus of Nazareth is foolishness, for how could the messiah be hung on a tree? Of course, today we know that his resurrection is even more foolish. And it is because of this foolishness that we know that Jesus of Nazarene was also God the Son -- the Word made Flesh who died as a ransom for many.

This sermon really got me thinking about the cross. If the cross is shameful, what does it mean for us when Jesus said "if anyone should come after me, he should take up his cross daily and follow me." (Matthew 16; Mark 8; Luke 9). I've heard people interpret these verses as each person should take up a ministry, or take up the sins of the their past and move forward. However, I'm not quite sure if these are the best understandings of these verses. I've also heard our crosses explained as persecution, which might be a bit closer to correct.

What do you think? How should following Christ connect to carrying the shame of the cross? Does this influence how we perceive work, money, success? Should it influence our self-image, our pride? What does it mean?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this, Keith. It meant a lot to me to see that verse differently. Taking up my cross can mean bearing the sometimes embarrassing or shameful words or conversations that come about as a result of my boldly living for Christ. To realize that Jesus bore the shame of the cross, and calls me to bear the "shame" of His name as well strengthens my resolve to live as an outspoken Jesus-follower.

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  2. Jesus didn't carry his sins on the cross, he carried mine. That's the shame! I agree with you when you say carrying a cross is persecution. Although Americans enjoy tremendous freedom, being an active, identifiable Christian won't make you popular. It won't put your life in danger... but it isn't always easy. Teenage Christians really struggle with this. They want to fit in and be popular so bad. The older I get, the easier it has become to carry my cross. God bless America, I couldn't say that anywhere in the world but here. I think we should reflect on the Christians and Missionarys outside the U.S. to even imagine what Jesus asks.

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  3. I agree that it was my sin that held him there and that's part of the shame. One song puts it this way, "Behold the Man upon a cross,
    My sin upon His shoulders;
    Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
    Call out among the scoffers.
    It was my sin that held Him there
    Until it was accomplished;
    His dying breath has brought me life
    I know that it is finished."
    I think any time we reject Him in any way, it is like we are there calling out among the scoffers again. I think that's the biggest shame. I also think that we have to take our shame and follow Him regardless of what we have done, and have it with us so that we can use it to tell others about what has happened in our lives. We don't want it to hold us in bondage to the past, but we want to be able to use our experiences to influence the lives of others in a positive way. Sometimes showing our faults to others to help them, and keep our pride in check.
    Just my thoughts...

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What do you think?