By Jim Tune
Three men sat together. After ordering food, one began to open up. Men usually speak about safe topics: work, sports, family. This time the man took a risk and dropped the mask. He felt exposed. He felt shame.
Genesis 2:25 describes Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the fall: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Kids and teens snicker at the verse. Later we begin to understand that we long for what Adam and Eve experienced: to be fully known and to be loved at the same time. Sin robbed us of the ability to drop the masks and to be fully known and loved. We wonder if people would still love us if they really knew the truth about us. We no longer feel safe.
“Shame is the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you,” Ed Welch writes in Shame Interrupted. “You feel exposed and humiliated.” We get it.
We can all relate to Johnny Depp, who told Rolling Stone magazine: “Covering myself up in makeup, it’s easier to look at someone else. It’s easier to look at someone else’s face than your own. I think for everyone. . . . You wake up in the morning, and you brush your teeth, and you’re like, ‘Ugh, that [idiot] again. You’re still here? What do you want?’ Hiding: I think it’s important. It’s important for your—for whatever’s left of your sanity, I guess.”
Since leaving Eden, we’re all in the business of hiding. We’re all familiar with shame.
Then came Jesus.
We’re good at talking about how Jesus takes away our guilt. What we need to understand is that Jesus also takes away our shame. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame.” At the cross, Jesus was stripped and shamed. He bore our shame; he took all the consequence of shame, like isolation and rejection, on our behalf. He’s defeated shame, so that Satan has no right to use it against us. At the cross, Jesus didn’t just take our guilt, he took our shame. In doing this, he gave us honor.
At the restaurant, one man reminded himself of this. He found a couple of trusted friends and dropped the mask. He felt exposed, but then his friends reminded him that there’s no longer any shame for anyone who is in Jesus. They reminded him that Jesus couldn’t love him any more than he already does, and there’s nothing he can do about it. Then they dropped their masks too.
As long as we’re on this earth, we will feel shame. One day Jesus will completely remove our masks, and we’ll be fully known and loved. Until then, praise God for safe moments when we can drop our masks with trusted friends. In those moments we can be both loved and known, and reminded that there’s no longer any reason to be ashamed.
Editor’s note: Jim Tune’s column has appeared weekly at this website since July, 2014. As we post this, his last column, we express deep gratitude for the insight and challenge he has brought us again and again. Search “Jim Tune” at our website to discover the rich archive of the pieces he has written.