The Purpose of Godly Shame

Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 13.22-27
22 And if you ask yourself, 
“Why has this happened to me?”— 
it is because of your many sins 
that your skirts have been torn off 
and your body mistreated. 
23 Can an Ethiopian change his skin 
or a leopard its spots? 
Neither can you do good 
who are accustomed to doing evil. 
24 “I will scatter you like chaff 
driven by the desert wind. 
25 This is your lot, 
the portion I have decreed for you,” 
declares the Lord, 
“because you have forgotten me 
and trusted in false gods. 
26 I will pull up your skirts over your face 
that your shame may be seen— 
27 your adulteries and lustful neighings, 
your shameless prostitution! 
I have seen your detestable acts 
on the hills and in the fields. 
Woe to you, Jerusalem! 
How long will you be unclean?” 

Reflection: The Purpose of Godly Shame
By John Tillman

Wails pierce the air. “Why is this happening to me?” asks the child with the broken toy.

“Because you broke it,” answers the parent.

The empty-handed child screams. Does the parent love her child? Of course.

God is Jerusalem’s parent. He patiently gave her everything she needed and called her to a high purpose. Instead, they became accustomed to evils and abuses common in other nations and abandoned the ways of the Lord. They had not just broken something inconsequential, like the toy in the example above. They had broken actual human lives and destroyed and corrupted the holiness of God’s Temple and their covenant with him.

God anticipated that when consequences of their actions arrived, the people of Jerusalem would cry like the careless child, “Why has this happened to me?”

Like the Jewish nation God established, we are intended to “image God” to the world. We show the world God’s face and are called “the body of Christ.” Too often our “body of Christ” is weak, ineffective, and corrupted. Too often the face of God we show is wrathful and unforgiving. God will set out, just as he did with Jerusalem, to expose hypocrisy and abuse. When this happens we might cry in shame, “Why is this happening to us?” 

Godly shame recognizes the gulf between our identity and our actions. However, God does not intend to leave us shamed. God is not an abusive parent. When we cry, even from self-inflicted wounds, he cares. The answer to “Why is this happening to us?,” is only partially, “because of your many sins.” (Jeremiah 13.22) The deeper answer is, “So I can restore you and fill you with good things.”

God promises to wipe out Jerusalem like a dish, leaving it upside down and empty. (2 Kings 21.13) The purpose of emptying something of filth is to fill it with something of worth. The purpose of cleansing something is to reuse it.

No matter how corrupt our hearts become, on the other side of confession is restoration and freedom from shame. If we allow him to empty us of pride, he will fill us with honor. If we allow him to empty us of sin, he will fill us with righteousness. If we allow him to empty us of cultural poisons, he will fill us with living water. We can then pour these offerings out to bless all those around us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!
Happy are they to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile! — Psalm 32.1-2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 13(Listen -4:11)
Galatians 4(Listen – 4:13)

This Weekend’s Readings
Jeremiah 14(Listen -3:51)Galatians 5(Listen – 4:39)
Jeremiah 15(Listen -3:22)Galatians 6(Listen – 2:18)

Read more about From Shameless to Blameless
Are we shamelessly sinful, defending our sins? Or are we humbly repentant, called blameless ONLY in Christ?

Readers’ Choice is Coming!
What posts from the past 12 months strengthened your faith? Share them with us and we’ll reshare them.

Comfortable Prophecies

Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 27.16-17
16 Then I said to the priests and all these people, “This is what the Lord says: Do not listen to the prophets who say, ‘Very soon now the articles from the Lord’s house will be brought back from Babylon.’ They are prophesying lies to you. 17 Do not listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this city become a ruin?

Matthew 13.1-2
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Reflection: Comfortable Prophecies
By John Tillman

People are harder to love than objects.

Objects make more predictable and controllable gods than the true and living One. Perhaps that is why we easily become attached to physical objects, places, and things and sometimes forget the God those things are intended to point us toward. 

The people of Jerusalem were very attached to the physical implements of their worship in the Temple. It was a shock to them when Nebuchadnezzar took away many articles from the Temple along with the previous king, Jehoiachin. Their patterns of worship were disrupted. 

This shock, however, did not cause the people to return to proper worship of God. Instead, it pushed them further into denial and brought forth false prophets who would tell the people exactly what they wanted to hear.

“The articles of the Temple will return!”
“The suffering will be over soon.”
“Normalcy will resume.”

These lies made very comfortable prophecies. Near irresistible. It is difficult to point a judgmental finger at the residents of Jerusalem for falling for these false prophets. The current suffering we are enduring is nothing anywhere near the scale that they were enduring. Even though our suffering is less severe than theirs, don’t we also feel the pull to grasp onto any far-fetched hope of an end and a return to normalcy?

Jeremiah’s prophecies are uncomfortable. People considered them unpatriotic. Jeremiah had a reputation for gloom as if his writings and prophecies contained no messages of hope or offers of forgiveness for the people. Yet, Jeremiah frequently and beautifully describes God’s longing to bless the people and save them from further destruction. But they are unwilling to do what God asks. They are unwilling to submit. They are unwilling to be humbled or to acknowledge the sins that led them to this point. They are unwilling to live under the consequences of their sins.

O God, help us not to worship normalcy, but to seek your presence in this unique time.
May we find our comfort in you rather than in things we demand that you restore to us.
May we not long for the missing “instruments” of worship more than we long for you, the object of our worship.
O God, help us not be misled by false prophets offering comfort instead of truth.
Give us discernment and faith.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Our iniquities you have set before you, and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
When you are angry, all our days are gone; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath? Who rightly fears your indignation:
So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. — Psalm 90.8-12

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 27 (Listen – 3:52)
Mark 13 (Listen – 4:32)

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 28 (Listen – 3:05) Mark 14 (Listen – 8:37)
Jeremiah 29 (Listen – 5:44) Mark 15 (Listen – 5:16)

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post helped you understand the gospel?

Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
Judah treasured the Temple’s importance but not its inhabitant. They treasured the regalia, not the relationship.