Shame is one of those emotions that affects all of us but it’s hard to identify. If we don't recognize shame and move past it, it will lead to other negative emotions and take us out. In this message, we discover the path off of the shame cycle.
All right, Porch Dallas. How are we doing? My name is Adam Tarnow. I'm excited to be with you guys. I want to welcome everybody at all the other Porch.Live locations and everybody watching online. I'm excited to be here with you guys. I'll just start off with a quick question. Has anybody ever had one of those moments in life where you just wanted to crawl, hide, and not show your face for a long period of time?
Since we've already connected so well, I figured I'd go ahead and open up with one of my most embarrassing and shameful moments in my life. Just to set up a little bit of context, it was about 11 years ago. My wife and I were married, and we didn't have any kids. We were living in a cool part of Dallas. This is back when we were cool.
We were living down in the M Streets area. Those of you who aren't in Dallas, you don't know that area, but everybody in this room knows that's where all the cool people are. We were down there living in the M Streets. We didn't have any kids, so we did what a lot of young married couples will do. We got a pet, but we made a bad mistake. We didn't get the dog. We got a cat.
I know I just offended most of you, but just wait. It gets worse. Anyway, we got this cat. For a lot of reasons, we needed to let this cat be an outdoor cat. Usually the way things would go is we'd get home from running errands or whatever, and the cat would be waiting on the porch to go inside and do whatever cats do.
I remember it was in November one Saturday afternoon. We come back after being gone all day, and the cat is not on the porch. I also had kind of an unhealthy relationship with this cat, meaning I really liked it. I had a little bit of anxiety when we drove in, and I looked around. I couldn't find the cat anywhere. I just thought, "That's strange," and went inside. We dropped off whatever groceries or whatever it was we had.
I decided, "I'm going to go outside and try to find the cat." I'm walking around, and I can't find the cat anywhere. I come inside. I'm like, "Jackie, have you seen the cat?" "No, I haven't seen it." I go back outside, and I'm in the backyard. Then I just hear this faint little cry. I'm starting to look around, and my heart is starting to beat a little bit faster. I'm like, "Okay. Where is he? Where is he?"
I hear the cry, and I hear the cry. I look in my neighbor's yard up about 25 feet, and I realize, "Oh, good Lord, my cat is 25 feet up in that tree." I don't know what to do, but I just kind of start to panic. I'm like, "I'm going to get you, buddy." I go running inside, and I'm like, "Jackie, Pedro is in the tree!" Pedro was his name. I'm like, "Pedro is in the tree right now!" She's like, "So?" I'm like, "Well, he's over there, and it's November. It's supposed to get cold tonight. It's starting to get dark outside. What are we going to do to get him out of the tree?"
She just looks at me, and she goes, "Have you ever seen a dead cat in a tree?" I was like, "No." She's like, "That's because they always come down. They don't stay up there and just die." I'm like, "You heartless woman! That's our baby." I really kind of start to panic, and I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do to get this cat down.
I start looking around the apartment, and I gather anything I think I can throw up there. I kid you not, I go out there with tennis balls and rolls of paper towel. I go up there, and I'm chucking these tennis balls up at him. I nail him in the side, and he does not move an inch. He just digs down in more. The papers towels were just useless. I don't know why I brought those out there. I tried throwing them up there. They went about 10 feet in the air and then came back down.
Anyway, I go inside. It's starting to get a little bit darker, and I'm really starting to panic a little bit. I'm starting to wonder, "What are we going to do to get this cat out of the tree? I can't let him stay out here all night." Then an idea popped into my mind. Sometimes I see on, like Good Morning America, that if you call the fire department, they'll come get your cat out of the tree.
Well, I'm not going to call 9-1-1, so I just Google fire department in Dallas. I find a phone number, and I call it. It's some office line, and I don't know why on a Saturday this young lady answers the phone. I just say, "Hey, my cat is stuck in a tree. Do you guys actually do that, or is that just on TV in small towns where the fire department has nothing else going on? Is that something you do?"
She said, "Oh, yeah. We'll do that." I said, "Okay, well how can I schedule that because I have a cat in a tree right now." She says, "Well, you need to call 9-1-1 and just tell them." I was like, "This feels like a violation, but okay." So, I hang up and call 9-1-1. It's like, "Dallas Fire, what's your emergency?"
I'm like, "No emergency. Just want to let you know, my name is Adam. I hope you're doing well. I called this other number, and they told me to call you because I have a cat stuck in the tree. I heard that if the fire guys aren't doing anything, they'll come get my cat out of the tree." They said, "Sure. We'll do that. Where do you live?"
I gave them the address and said, "Come." I'm like, "Problem solved." I walk into the kitchen. I'm all proud. "Jackie, I called the fire department. They're coming." She's like, "I'm having nothing to do with this. Okay? This was all you. I'm staying inside." I go outside, and I'm anxiously waiting for the fire department to show up.
Literally like seven minutes later, this truck comes rolling down. It stops right in front of my house. Then it turns the lights on. It's dark outside now, or it's like right at dusk. My entire neighborhood is now lit up in lights. That was the first moment when I started to realize, "Oh no! I should not have done this."
Now the neighbors are starting to look out the window. People are starting to come out on their porches. They're like, "Who had a heart attack? What's going on?" I'm just sitting there going, "Oh, it's just me and my cat." Then, three of the manliest men I have ever seen in my life… You guys know those firemen calendars? I promise you it was May, June, and July on this fire truck who get down. It's in that moment I am just like, "What is going on in my life right now?"
In the recovery world, we call that rock bottom. I had hit rock bottom right there. I realized… I'm like, "Yeah, my cat is over here." I walk them to the backyard. Mr. May brings the ladder up. June climbs up it. I start to try to man-up a little bit in that. I think, "I'm going to say something cool." I'm like, "If you've got a gun, you can shoot him down." They looked at me like, "You are an idiot."
They grab my cat, Pedro, and they hand him to me. I take him inside. I look at my wife, and I'm like, "It's all done. I got him." She was just like, "I can't believe you did that." I just said, "I know. I've kind of lost the will to live, I think, now." As a few minutes go by and now they're leaving, I was overwhelmed with this feeling of humiliation and embarrassment. It was prevalent. It was very real.
I start with that tonight because that's what we're going to talk about as we're going on in this series called Mood, as we're taking a biblical look at different human emotions. The human emotion we're going to talk about tonight is shame. Shame and embarrassment. When I say shame, here's what I mean: Shame is that feeling we have, this deep feeling of humiliation we have, after certain choices we make. Shame is this thing in our lives where we feel this desire to hide or conceal different parts of our lives. That's what shame is.
Shame is prevalent in every single one of our lives. That's why I think tonight's message is so important. What I know is probably true about every single person in this room tonight is you struggle with shame. It is a universal emotion. Every single one of us feels shame at certain points throughout the day, or we have at certain points in our lives. It is like a disease that has infected humanity.
All of us have felt it. Some of us are in here tonight, and this is exactly what we're feeling. We're feeling this humiliation for certain choices we've made, and we have this deep desire to try to conceal or hide certain aspects of our lives. What makes shame so interesting and so dangerous is, unlike other moods or other emotions you and I experience, shame is absolutely intolerable.
If you think about it, the other moods or emotions we go through, you can feel them for a long period of time. You can feel joy for a long period of time. You can feel happy for a long period of time. You can feel content for a long period of time. You can feel mad or angry for a long period of time. You can feel depressed or sad or hopeless for a long period of time, but shame, this feeling of humiliation, this feeling I want to hide or conceal, is unlike any of those other emotions.
Shame is intolerable in our lives. It always, always, always leads us to action. Oftentimes, as we're going to see tonight, that action…what we choose to do, where we choose to run…doesn't help at all. Shame is a big deal for every single one of us. You have to learn how to deal with shame because if you don't learn how to deal with it, it will take you out. It will completely take you out.
In the extreme examples, it will lead to suicide. You will just become so humiliated with your life and so down about your life that you will lose all hope that anything in the future could ever be better. In an extreme example, if you don't learn how to deal with shame, it will lead to you just ending your life. It'll end in suicide.
More commonly where it probably ends for a lot of us is just this: gnawing, nagging, deep-seated insecurity and low-level depression that hangs with us. It just seems to be this thing, this mood we cannot shake. Shame impacts every single one of us, and if we don't learn how to deal with it, it is going to take us out.
What we're going to do tonight is open up God's Word. We're going to be in this little story in the gospel of Luke, chapter 8. It's actually kind of a story within a story. Here's a little bit of the context. Jesus has been doing some public ministry. There are a lot of crowds around him, and he is walking through this town.
This family comes up to him, and they tell him about their daughter who is sick, this family member who is so sick she's on the verge of dying. Jesus, full of compassion, wants to go and help this family and try to heal this young girl. As Jesus and the crowds are moving toward this house, a woman comes and interrupts Jesus.
It's in these few verses, in this interruption, as Jesus is on his way to go heal this young girl, where we're going to see a story that really parallels our lives a lot when it comes to shame. That's what we're going to look at today. If you have your Bibles, let's open up to Luke, chapter 8. We're going to be in verses 42 through 48.
Luke, chapter 8, verse 42: "As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years…" This is what I love about God's Word. It doesn't hide anything. It talks about real, adult, human things. This poor woman was subject to vaginal hemorrhaging for over 12 years. For 12 years. Jesus is on his way, and this woman, who had been bleeding for 12 years, comes up to him. This is what happens.
" …[She] had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her." This was a plague she had been carrying around, this thorn in her side she had been carrying around. In verse 44, "She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped." Then verse 45. "'Who touched me?' Jesus asked."
Let's just pause here for a second. You can kind of get this scene. There are these crowds. They are crushing Jesus. He's moving on. They want to see this drama that's going to happen as he goes and is going to heal this young girl. There, in the midst of all of that, this woman sneaks up behind him, touches the edge of his cloak, and then just disappears.
Jesus is kind of looking around going, "Who touched me?" You can think about this woman and what it was in her life that would cause her to want to sneak up behind Jesus. It's pretty clear, and it's easy to understand why she would do that because the thing that had been ailing her, or the ailment she had, was incredibly embarrassing. For 12 years, to have that bleeding.
You can imagine all the different layers that were there adding to the complications. Culturally, because she was having this bleeding that would not stop for 12 years, she was an outcast. She was an outcast, and she was considered unclean. She was this recluse. She was isolated because of this problem that was going on with her own body. Because she was an outcast culturally, that means spiritually she could not worship God. She was an outcast spiritually.
Then you just think about the embarrassment physically. How uncomfortable that must have been physically in the first century when they didn't have the modern medicine we have today or even the hygiene products we have today. This was a woman who was dealing with a significant issue, and she was feeling this inadequacy in her life. She was feeling this inadequacy. There was something that was embarrassing, something she wanted to conceal or hide, something that was probably humiliating her.
Mixed with that inadequacy, there was also probably some pride. There was probably some pride in all of that. Where we grab that out of the text is that she was one of the only people we see recorded in the Gospels who wanted healing from Jesus who snuck up behind him to get that healing.
If you read through the rest of the Gospels, what you'll see is when somebody physically had something going on, and they came to Jesus and wanted healing, they were very public about it. They would come up and be like, "Jesus, See? I'm blind," or "I'm lame right now," or they would be lying out in a spot in public where all of those who had the physical ailments were. Jesus would show up, and it was very, very public for so many people.
I think this was probably the only recording of somebody who needed healing who snuck up behind Jesus and did not want to make it public. She had this inadequacy in her life, this failure in her life, this thing that was embarrassing to her, but she also had her reputation. She had some pride. She didn't want everybody to know, so she snuck up behind him to try to touch his cloak.
The first observation I want to make out of the passage, and where our lives kind of parallel the life of this woman is the formula for shame (if there is one) is our inadequacy and our pride. When we understand we are inadequate, but we also have some pride, we have some reputation, we're not okay with that inadequacy… When those two things are together, that's when we start to feel humiliated. That's when we start to want to conceal or hide.
Let me illustrate it this way, because I think what a lot of us do when we look at our own lives is we end up kind of bifurcating our lives. We split our lives into two. We wouldn't really admit we do this, but really this is what happens. We think there are two. You think there's two of you, and I think there's two of me.
There's the ideal you, and then there's the bad you. The ideal you is the you who really follows this: I should… (Fill in the blank.) You have your answers. I have my answers. The way you answer that and the way I answer that, that's what determines the ideal you.
I should always be in control of my emotions. I should always want to feel like spending time with Jesus. I should always share the gospel every chance I get. I should not feel anxious. I should be married right now. I should be in a better job right now. I should be in a better financial position right now. Whatever it is, when you have all of those things lined up, you are setting these expectations on your own life and saying you should do something.
When you do achieve those little goals you set out, when you do behave in the way you think you should, that's the ideal you. That's the you you like because you're behaving. That's the you you think everybody else likes because you're performing. That's the you you think God really loves, the you who is easy for God to love.
We have this ideal every single one of us wants to achieve. We also know, based on our experience, that's not always what happens. We don't always meet up with our own expectations. We have some failure, some inadequacy, that comes into our lives. We cannot keep up with our own standards we set in our own lives.
Inevitably, even though you want to always stay in control of your emotions, even though you want to never feel anxiety, even though you never want to get angry again, the fact of the matter is you do get angry. You do feel anxious. You are ashamed of your family. You are ashamed of your past. You do not do everything you wish you would do, so there is inadequacy. When there's inadequacy, then we think we are the bad version of us.
This bad version of us down here, this is toxic. We don't like it. We don't think other people like it. We don't think God likes it, and so we wallow. There are two of us. We wish we could be some way. We are inadequate, and so we come down here. There is the bad us. When we're down here in this toxic part of our lives, this is where shame pops in. This is where we start to feel humiliated. This is where we want to conceal or to hide everything.
I remember the day in my life, specifically. I remember the night when shame became very, very real for me. I was probably in my early 20s. I was living in Atlanta at the time, and I was an accountant. I was an auditor. I had a client in Huntsville, Alabama. I had gone to this client completely on my own. My firm had sent me out there on my own. I showed up on a Sunday night, and I was there all the way through Thursday night. I was going to be driving back home on a Friday after work.
I remember, it was really a pretty great week until it got to Thursday night. It was a great week because I was by myself and, being a natural introvert, I liked having time to be by myself in the hotel and read. I was reading a great book, and I felt like I was growing in my relationship with God that week. I was reading a book about character, and how you can grow to be a person of character. I remember Thursday night, I read a chapter that said sometimes in order to go forward, you have to go back.
I remember reading that sentence and hearing that author talk about, "Hey, you have things in your life you've done, you have things you've done to other people, you have certain actions you need to confess and own up to. This part of you sometimes, to be able to progress and to become a person of character, you have to go back and deal with all of that before you can move forward in maturity and character."
I'll never forget how hopeless I felt that night, because my story is this. When I was 3 years old, I was first exposed to pornography. From age 3 until about age 21, pornography was a regular part of my life. I look back on my childhood, and there are certainly a lot of great moments. I had a loving family, a great family and great parents, but I look back on my childhood, and there is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment.
Being exposed to pornography that young meant in those years I was making decisions and I was involved in certain activities that were just embarrassing. I felt like there was this part of my life that the thought of going back and revisiting, the thought of going back in order to go forward, the thought of going back and maybe telling somebody else about those things, was horrifying.
I remember in that moment I just said, "I'm going to conceal this. I don't want to talk to anybody about this. If that's what it takes to go forward, I'm fine not going forward." I'll never forget that night. I closed that chapter. I closed that book. I put it in my bag, and I just said, "I want to do anything I can to not think about my past right now."
I turned on the television, and I slept that night with the lights on. I made sure for the next couple of weeks that I never was alone or quiet. I always wanted noise because I did not want to go back there. I was feeling humiliated to think I was going to have to go back and somehow deal with this. I liked this Adam. I didn't like that Adam. I thought God liked this Adam. I didn't think God liked that Adam. I didn't want to go back.
Shame causes us to hide. It causes us to run. The reason it's there is because we all feel this deep-seated inadequacy. We all know we've done things. We all know we fall short of our own standard in life, and that's often the formula: our inadequacy mixed with our pride. That's the reason for our shame. Let's keep going because the story gets much better. In verse 45, Jesus said, "Who touched me? […] When they all denied it, Peter said, 'Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.'"
You can imagine the scene. Jesus felt somebody had touched him. He starts going around going, "Who was it? Was it you? Was it you? Was it you? Was it you?" Everybody denied it. Peter finally steps up and says, "Listen, there are a lot of people around, so maybe it was just somebody touched you by accident or something like that." "But Jesus said, 'Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'"
Let me just pause here, and let's have another observation and see where our lives run parallel to this woman's life. First let me say this. Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. Jesus here wondering who touched him… It's not like Jesus was a character or a person in a video game, who when he got hit and some power went down, he is just sitting around going, "All right. I saw my power levels go down. Who hit me?" He knew exactly what was going on.
The point of this interaction and the reason why Luke was recording these details is because what was going on is that woman was gone. She had run. She wasn't there.
The second observation I want to make is that the reason for our shame is inadequacy and pride, but our response to shame is to run. Our response to shame is often the exact same as this woman's. Our response to shame is to run. It's to run. When we come over here, and we have this ideal you. You're inadequate. Then there's this bad you. You don't want to hang down here. What do you do? You run. You run.
You run to anything you think is going to get you back to the ideal you. Some of you, what you do, is you run to religious things. Let's just be honest. There are probably some of you in the room here tonight, and the reason you're here tonight is because you're trying to make up for something you did this weekend. You run to religious things. You'll run to church.
You'll run to these religious activities where you're just going, "All right. I'm going to read my Bible every day," or "I'm going to serve every day," or "I'm going to give," or "I'm going to try to be others-focused." So, you'll run over there. You'll start to feel bad about yourself and inadequate, so you're going to run to the gym.
You're going to run to work. You're going to run to Netflix. You're going to run to podcasts. You're going to run to anything that will get your mind off of thinking about your own inadequacy. When we start to feel this shame, we start to run. There's an activity because it's intolerable. We always want to do something.
We'll run toward these other activities, or we'll run away from certain activities and certain people. We'll run from God. We'll run from our friends. When do you want to not answer the text from somebody in your Community Group on, "How are you doing?" You want to answer it about two or three hours after you've just faced your own inadequacy again. You understand, and you're feeling all of this shame.
What we start to realize with this, with shame, is we start to realize this shame we feel down there is really a gateway mood. It's a gateway emotion to other things. Oftentimes, because we feel this shame, this is where we bring other destructive habits into our lives. This is why we run to anger. This is why we run to addictions. This is why we're so anxious.
It's not because we struggle with anxiety; it's because we struggle with shame. Not because we struggle with drugs and alcohol, it's because we struggle with shame. We're trying to hide something. We're trying to get this feeling away from anything and everything except from Jesus. It just doesn't work. It just doesn't work.
For my story, the gateway for me, when I was feeling shame, was anger. That's where I would go. I would go with anger. I remember very clearly one of the times where this became so clear, that when I was feeling shame, I would act out in anger. I thought I had an anger problem. To my great shame right now, I need to share with you another story about a cat. I now am going to go down as the guy who came to The Porch and shared two stories about cats. That's okay.
It's the same cat, Pedro. I am in my apartment. Again, we don't have kids. For some reason, the memory I have is I remember I was doing a puzzle. I think it was over Christmas, so that just makes this story even better. I'm doing a puzzle, and I remember the cat kept getting up on the table, interrupting the puzzle, and moving all the pieces away. I'm getting frustrated, and I keep pushing the cat down. He jumps off. I push the cat down. He jumps on. I push the cat down.
I get so frustrated with him. Every time he jumps up there, I'm getting more and more frustrated. Then I also know I'm starting to get frustrated that I'm getting frustrated. I start to think, "I shouldn't be getting frustrated for a cat interrupting my puzzle right now." Finally, he jumps up there, and I push him down. He kind of scurries on the table, and all these pieces go flying.
I am so mad and so frustrated right now that I just pick up the closest thing I can find, which is a bag of pretzels, and I chase him around the apartment. I throw the bag of pretzels at the cat, which does absolutely nothing to the cat. All it does is make pretzels and salt go flying everywhere, all over the apartment and all over the wood floors. Now are there are little granular pieces of salt and pretzel everywhere.
I'm sitting there, and I'm just going, "What is going on?" I remember I went to go talk to my friend. I was trying to process this with my friend. I was like, "Here's what happened. I tell you, man, I have an anger problem. I think I have an anger problem." He said, "Well, tell me about it." I'm going, "This, and this… I threw the pretzels, and salt went everywhere." He's like, "Yeah. It may be an anger problem, but why were you angry?"
I said, "Why was I angry? Well, here's exactly why I was angry. I was angry because I was so frustrated at how flustered I was getting. I was angry because I just realized, 'Adam, you shouldn't be mad about this. Adam, you shouldn't be freaking out about this. Adam, you should be able to stay in control of your emotions. You should be calm. You've been following Jesus for almost 10 years now. Shouldn't you grow up beyond this silly little behavior where a little thing like this is frustrating you?'"
I'm listing out all of these should, should, should, should, should. He's just going, "Listen, man. I just want to help you connect these dots here. Your anger is you trying to run. It's rooted in your shame. That's where that anger comes from." Shame causes us to run toward things. What we all know in here, and every single one of us would admit this, is whatever it is you run toward to try to get back to the ideal you, it doesn't work. It doesn't work.
That's why you keep going back over and over and over and over again. That's why this cycle continues in our lives, because our strategies for dealing with shame that don't involve Jesus do not work. No matter where you run, no matter where you try to hide, you're always here. Our strategies don't help us at all.
The reason for our shame is this inadequacy and this pride. Our response to shame is typically to run, but there's a remedy. There's a remedy this woman encountered, and there's a remedy for all of us that we can encounter. Let's look at this. Let's look at how the story wraps up here. Verse 46:
"But Jesus said, 'Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'"
I don't know if we can recreate the tension, the emotion, the relief, the embarrassment, the anxiety, and all that woman probably was feeling, but all I know is it seems like she was ready to quit hiding. She was ready to quit hiding. When Jesus kept calling out, she knew the Lord was calling her. That's why he was saying, "I know power went out." He wanted to draw this woman out.
She just finally said, "I'm done running. I'm done trying to hide," and she fell at his feet. In front of everyone, that whole crowd that was there, she admitted, "Here's why I touched your cloak. Here's what's going on in my life." She was incredibly vulnerable, and she laid it at the feet of Jesus. What she wanted, when she went to go find and sneak up to Jesus, was healing.
She got healing, but she got something way more than that, too. She got a relationship with God. She got grace. She was now no longer this recluse. She was now a daughter of the King. She came looking for healing. What she got was not just that, but she got a restored relationship with God. She was no longer a social outcast.
The third observation we'll make as we wrap up tonight is the remedy for our shame is to come to terms with reality. This woman just came to terms with reality. "I can't hide anymore. I have to go bring it to Jesus." She came to terms with reality. The remedy for my shame and for your shame is not just to keep running because if we keep running, we're going to stay on this cycle. It's going to keep going and going and going. I have some bad news for you.
The bad news is this is true. This is true about you. There are moments in your life where you can be the ideal you. There are moments in your life, for whatever it is you think you should do, you can do it. You can achieve that. You can act a certain way for a certain period of time in your own strength, but what else is true about you is you are wholly inadequate to keep it up for a long period of time. What's also equally true about you is there's a lot of bad in every single one of us. The bad news is there is more bad in us, there is more inadequacy in us, than there is ideal in us.
The good news is God is not surprised by any of that. What's even better, the even better news, is he loves you anyway. That's what's called the gospel, that God saw that we all fall short of the glory of God, that the wages of sin is death. He knows this is who we are. Not only do we feel bad about ourselves in this, but this fractures our relationship with the God of the universe. The wages of that sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.
Not only does this lead us on a cycle where we feel this shame and this humiliation, this separates us from God. God didn't want to leave us there, so he sent Jesus to die on the cross on our behalf. That's the good news. The reality for us, the reality we need to embrace, is you and I need the gospel every single day of our lives. You don't just need it one time to receive forgiveness for your sins, and then you don't need the gospel anymore.
You need the gospel every single day of your life because every day you are faced with your own inadequacy. You cannot be the person you want to be apart from Jesus. I think for so many of us, part of the shame we feel is we feel ashamed we need the gospel every day. We're just tired that we keep failing, and we can't seem to string together a good season. What really is going on is our pride is so high that we are ashamed we need the gospel every day, that we're a sinner in need of a Savior. Not one time. For a lifetime.
May we never be ashamed of the gospel. May we be like Paul. Look at what he says here in Romans, chapter 1, verse 16. He says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'"
What Paul is saying there is, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel." I need the gospel every single day. Do you know why? Because my righteousness, my relationship with God, is not based on my own activities. If it were based on my own activities, I'm sunk. I don't need a second chance. I've already blown the second chance. I need a Savior, and I need that Savior every single day.
I just want to remind us tonight of this. When you say you're a Christian, when you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, that is a self-deprecating statement. You know what you're telling the world when you say, "I follow Jesus"? You're saying, "I'm not good enough. I can't save myself. I can't string together enough good days. Left to myself, I'm going to hell. I don't need a second chance. What I need is I need a Savior. That Savior is Jesus Christ."
I love that you get to hear that if this is your first time here at The Porch. I would imagine you come into a room like this, and you see all these beautiful people in here raising their hands… They're singing, and you're maybe feeling shame and just going, "All these people must be so good. They must be so good that they can sing. They smile, and they look like they're in a good mood."
I want to let you know if that's you and it's your first time, this room is not full of good people. This room is full of very bad people. In fact, let's just take a moment. Make sure your wallet is still there. Ladies, make sure your purse is still around because there are bad people in here. This is not a museum of awesome. This is a hospital full of sick people who have found the Healer in Jesus Christ. Amen? Amen.
The only way to get off this shame cycle is you have to run somewhere else. The only way is you have to run to Jesus. That's how you get off the shame cycle. The source, the reason, for our shame is inadequacy and pride. We know we cannot be who we want to be, and yet we're prideful and we're embarrassed about that. That's why we feel this need and this humiliation to conceal and hide.
We end up running because shame is intolerable. We run to something. We run to things, or we run from people or from God. Those solutions never work. The only remedy is to come to terms with reality. We need the gospel every single day. I'll close with this one last story, when the end of the shame cycle became very clear in my life.
I had that night in Huntsville, Alabama. I read that book. I was like, "I just want to forget all of my past. I don't want to go back and talk about anything." I drove back to Atlanta and went a few days of just trying to isolate and trying to ignore. It was overwhelming. The shame was overwhelming. I finally just said, "I have to tell somebody."
I got a couple of friends together, and I said, "We've been friends for a while. You know a lot about me, but you don't know everything. I've feeling overwhelmed with a sense of humiliation. I don't know how you're going to react to this. I'm afraid of how you're going to react to this, but I'm going to tell you everything.
Here's what happened when I was 3. Here's what happened in my elementary school years. Here's what middle school was like. Here's what high school was like. Here's what college was like before I came to know Jesus. I did this, and then I thought that. I used to believe this. Then there was this experience."
I just laid it all out there. It was so terrifying because I had no clue what they were going to do. I didn't know if somebody would love me anyway. I laid it all out there, and I was just amazed at the amount of grace and mercy that was shown to me as I shared all of those things. My friends looked at me, and they said, "Me too."
"Maybe it looks a little bit different, Adam, and maybe it's not the exact same facts and circumstances but let me tell you all the things I'm embarrassed about. Let me tell you all the things I am humiliated by." We, in that moment, got into this habit of being able to share these things that normally would plague us and be this cycle of shame trying to drive us to run from God or run to some religious activity to try to make ourselves feel better.
We got in this habit of trying to confess these things to one another. Now for the past 10 or 15 years, that's how I deal with shame. That's the remedy. You run to Jesus and you often, by running to Jesus, run to Jesus' people. When you run to Jesus and you run to Jesus' people you just start to go, "Listen, this is what I'm afraid of. This is what I think you're going to leave me over," and what you realize is that Proverbs 28 is true. "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy."
My challenge for all of us here tonight is this: It's just really simple; it's to run to Jesus. Get off that cycle. We all do it. We all have the cycle. We all have inadequacy in our lives. We all have these things that are humiliating that we want to hide. We have stories we don't want to share. My challenge to you is to get off the cycle and run to the cross.
First and foremost, recognize and realize that God loves you anyway. There is intimacy there. He's not afraid of that. He knows all of those things. You've been found out already. By running to Jesus, you can then run to his people. You can tell someone. If that's you here tonight…you walked in, and you're just plagued by this shame; you know it's this gateway mood or this gateway emotion, and there are all kinds of other destructive behaviors in your life tonight…I'm telling you that you can get off that cycle.
You can stop it tonight. The people who brought you here tonight, you can talk to them. There will be a group of us down here at the end. We'd love to talk to you or to point you to other people who can help. There's a way off that cycle. We're all inadequate. We all struggle with pride. We all want to run somewhere. The remedy is found when we embrace the reality that we are sinners in need of a savior. That Savior is Jesus, and we run to him. Amen? Amen. Let's pray.
Lord, we thank you for the cross. We thank you that we can share embarrassing stories and inadequacies in our own lives with one another. We are just grateful we can do that, God. We're grateful we can confess these things to you and you love us anyway. We're grateful, Lord, that our deepest fears of rejection are cast aside when we come to the foot of the cross.
We're grateful, Lord, that our lives parallel and that we can identify with stories like of this woman. I pray all of us here tonight will experience that same grace and mercy that woman experienced when she fell at your feet, Jesus. Lord, we thank you for the gospel, that our relationship with you is not founded on what we do but on what you did.
God, we worship you, not because we're good. We worship you because you're good and you forgive. You are full of grace and mercy. Lord, my friends tonight who are just trembling, who are afraid to tell somebody, I pray you'll give them courage, Lord, that they'll talk to friends, that they'll talk to other followers of you, and they'll be able to experience the freedom that comes from running to the cross. We pray all this in Jesus' name, amen.