Sometimes I feel unworthy and think, “Who am I to witness after all the times I have sinned and betrayed God?” When these thoughts come, the shame cripples me in fear. It’s very subtle and creeps in most of the time without me even realizing it.
The effects of sin – shame, isolation, and fear paralyze us and keep us from moving forward towards God. That’s just what the devil wants. If we don’t feel worthy, good enough, or knowledgeable enough, then we won’t spread the gospel: we’ll turn in on ourselves and fail to love.
During holy week, we had an opportunity to reflect on the cross – the source of our freedom from sin and eternal life. Do you accept the gift of freedom or do you continue to live in shame, fear, and isolation? Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, went through almost all the acts of repentance: he acknowledged betraying innocent blood and returned the money. He went through the actions of repentance, but he did not believe in the power of Christ’s mercy and hung himself. When do you not believe in the power of Jesus’s mercy?
It’s not until we face the fact that we are sinners that we are able to turn away from fear and doubt towards God’s mercy and love. Recently, I have been praying about this shame that cripples me, desiring to be set free, and I was overjoyed when I found out how. The truth comes from a simple story in the Old Testament.
One of the times the Israelite’s complained against God, “the Lord sent among the people sarape serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died” (Numbers 21:6). At first that sounds a little harsh, however each time we sin, we bring upon ourselves a spiritual death. There are natural consequences for our sins: shame, fear, confusion, isolation. What’s incredible, though, is that God uses the very thing that causes us to sin to set us free.
In God’s great mercy, the Lord told Moses, that those bitten do not have to die, saying to Moses, “make a seraph and mount it on a pole and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover” (Numbers 21:8). When the people looked at the source of their pain, the seraph, they were healed. Similarly, in order for us to be healed we have to behold our source of pain, our source of sin – the body! How do we behold our body to be healed?
Beautifully, Christ mounted His body on a pole (in the form of a cross), taking on our shame by becoming completely vulnerable, naked, stripped of His dignity. In this great sacrifice, the source of our shame, the body became no longer a sign of shame but the way to our freedom and healing! We no longer have to live as slaves to the effects of sin: fear, isolation, doubt…. All we have to do is behold His body and through the simple act of beholding the Body of Christ in adoration, we recover from the serpents biting us in our lives (our sins). Therefore, let us run to confession, face our shame, and behold the body of our Savior who was mounted on the cross for us to be set free.