What would it be like to live free from guilt and shame? Author, Erwin McManus, talks about a recurring childhood memory of shame. This sense of shame often debilitates us from moving forward in our lives. How can we move past these experiences and into ones of hope and freedom?
Questions for Reflection
- McManus begins by talking about how the word “salvation has been co-opted, and has been misused, and mistreated.” How has the word “salvation” been misused by Christians? What might be better ways to talk about “salvation”?
- McManus says, “The best proof of life after death is life before death. If you take the narrative of the last eighty years, salvation is about going to heaven and not going to hell.” What might McManus mean by “life before death”?
- McManus quotes John 10:10 saying, “I’ve come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” He then interprets this verse to say, “Jesus was trying to give us life in this life and he was trying to give us a life that made death—in that sense—irrelevant.” What might it mean to have life that is abundant? How does Jesus make death irrelevant for us in this life?
- McManus speaks about what salvation means for him: “I was saved from my fears and my doubts. I was saved from my brokenness and wounded-ness. I was saved from a sense of insignificance. I was saved from the fear that my life would never matter.” What does your list look like? Why must salvation be this kind of personal encounter, and not just about being saved from hell?
- McManus tells a story from his childhood where he was thrown out of the family bathroom and naked into the streets. He recalled the shame he felt while hiding in the bushes, and during his reflection he wonders, “Who told you to be ashamed?” From where do our feelings of shame come?
- McManus describes other passages, John 7:53–8:11 and Genesis 3:10, while talking through the feeling of shame. The first passage is the story of the woman who was “caught in adultery.” McManus says, “I wonder if this woman who was dragged there, naked and ashamed…if she could stand up and walk home naked and unashamed?” McManus also reflects on Adam and Eve’s story as a story not of disobedience but a story of exchanging one narrative for another: “[God] said to Adam, ‘Whose story of you have you exchanged my story of you with. Who told you were naked?’ Because I never told them they were naked.” What do these stories say about God’s perspective on our guilt and shame versus our own perspectives? How do shame and guilt often imprison us?
- In conclusion, McManus says, “I wish I could go back to the moment when I was ten when they threw me out of the house, but I realize it wasn’t my shame, it was theirs. And I wish I had heard those words from God, ‘Who told you, you were naked?’ I wish I had met the God who had seen through my nakedness and take away our shame.” What would it be like for God to take away our feelings of shame and our sense of guilt? How might we better see ourselves through the eyes of God?