For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
From "Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection" by Edward T. Welch, New Growth Press, 2012.
The world is turned upside down as soon as you enter the kingdom. Jesus takes you through a gate that says—and this is amazing—HONORED. It is the only way in. Shame for one woman I know gives way when it’s her birthday. For those few hours, shame is elbowed out from the center of her life. Friends call her. She usually gets a gift or two. Someone at work keeps track of birthdays, so either a cake or cupcakes show up at lunch. She is honored. Birthdays can be a big deal. For children, they are the days when they eat whatever they want, receive gifts, celebrate with songs, and feel like royalty from sunup to sundown. On my birthday I still get to choose my dinner and dessert menu and my family treats me most kindly, even if I am a grouch. Of course, tomorrow is someone else’s birthday and I leave the limelight, but it certainly can be nice while it lasts. I, for one, am not above using “It’s my birthday” as a way to garner a little more patience and mercy from others. Birthdays can feel peculiar, though. We receive kindness we do not deserve. Who are we to receive special treatment, especially when we know we don’t deserve it? Who are we to be honored for doing nothing more than being born? Well, get accustomed to that feeling because, like it or not, there is only one way into the kingdom of God. You must receive honor—honor that is extravagant and eternal. God has honored you. The gospel is the story of how he did it. At the heart of the story is the word servant. Jesus Christ became your servant. There is no honor in being served by paid help. The servant is only doing a job; it is fee for service. Employees don’t have to like their bosses, or servants their masters. But what if someone volunteers to serve you? Jesus freely placed your interest above his own. His desire was to elevate your status; in the process he lowered his own. He gave you the royal treatment: he works, you benefit. And you must accept this treatment. Jesus made himself nothing in order to be your servant, and servants live to enhance the status of those they serve. God honoured you. No wonder the apostle Paul was immune to the shame of the world. No amount of worldly shame could diminish the honor God had bestowed on him. Indeed, "the Lord bestows favor and honor" (Psalm 84:11), but we never thought he would come down off the throne, willingly become our servant and serve us all the way to the cross. When Jesus voluntarily became your servant, he lowered himself and elevated you. Yes, you might feel laid low initially. When you first see your sin clearly, you feel like you come crashing down to earth. You acknowledge that you have no status or accomplishments to offer the King. But when you stop to think about it, there was nothing especially humiliating in that. You simply stopped pretending you were God. You finally acted like the human being you were created to be: you turned from your independent, isolated ways and connected to Jesus. It is a sign that you are moving when you see your sin and don’t immediately go back into the gutter. Sin is a fact. To be blind to it is shameful. To see it is normal and human. To confess it to the Lord and see that he gladly accepts you rather than turns away? That shows you are connected to him and becoming more like him. So the beginning of life with Jesus Christ, even when it means seeing your own sin, is honor, not humiliation. When you are served by Jesus and connected to him, it can be no other way.