- May 2, 2019
- Posted by: Carolyn Mahal
- Category: Devotions
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17
For the past several years, the Internet has had its share of animal shaming pictures. You’ve probably seen them: pictures of a dog or a cat with a sign in front of them or hanging on their neck. Written on the sign in what appears to be the animal’s own voice is a witty remark or admission of guilt for some bad behavior. In most cases, evidence of the crime is found within the picture as well.
What I find enjoyable about these pictures (besides the fact that some people have enough free-time to be able to post them) is that the dog in the picture usually has a very guilty look on her face (NOTE: this concept doesn’t work on cats who, in my experience, regret nothing).
Witnessing similar unphotographed situations at my home with my two dogs confirms for me the idea that when a dog does something that she knows she shouldn’t do; she will sulk or demonstrate she is feeling guilt for what she did. The dogs seem to behave this way until such time as I show them that I am not upset with them and am willing to move on from the incident. Once established, they will return back to their playful, food-desiring selves.
I’m no dog whisperer, but this seems to be a consistent response from my dogs after they do something bad. The main reason I recognize this as guilt is because I can relate to it. Over my life I have done many things that I regret. When my actions have caused offense or injury to someone else, I find myself feeling shame and guilt at very uncomfortable levels. In fact, it is my usual desire to apologize and make things right as quickly as possible. Fast resolution doesn’t diminish the consequences of the action, but it does help to release me from feeling the shame that will tear me up inside if left unresolved.
It is with this understanding of the power of shame that I wonder why something so upsetting in some circumstances can be a comfortable ally in others. Consider for a moment the gift God has given us though Scripture. The Bible provides for us a guide to help us live our lives on earth according to His will. I understand what I have been instructed to do but my sinfulness gets in the way, leaving me feeling guilty.
Living in a world that is increasingly skeptical of the Bible and a Christian worldview, we find ourselves struggling with a new level of shame. It is very easy to set aside our faith and beliefs when we find ourselves in a conversation with colleagues and friends who don’t believe what the Bible has to say. It is considered polite to keep faith out of polite conversations. Political views based on Scriptural tenets can be challenging to find and are often viewed as simplistic or even dangerous by those who disregard them. Because of this, many choose to keep their faith as a small piece of their lives, couched in tradition and designed to provide aid and support for their families during events like baptisms, weddings and funerals. Through this, we minimize the impact that our faith is having, maintaining a public persona for 166 hours a week while offering God the other 2.
That’s EXACTLY what Satan desires most!
Paul implores the Romans (and us) to not hide our faith in Christ like some guilty pleasure. Jesus came to do for us what we could never do for ourselves – overcome the sin that permeates our lives and separates us from our Heavenly Father. Jesus’ triumphant victory over death provides for us the salvation we desperately need to restore us to a right relationship with God. His victory is OUR victory! This should be celebrated, not stifled. But it doesn’t stop there. Because we live in this full assurance of our righteousness, we are called to “live by faith.” We need not fear and we certainly need not apologize for what Christ has done. Our lives must offer a bold testimony of who we are, what we believe, and how Christ’s love sets us apart from a world riddled with sinfulness, selfishness, and ultimately hopelessness.
May we live our lives by faith, renewed in the righteousness given to us so that we will never again be ashamed of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As for our pets, all we can do is hope for the best (cat owners excluded).
Devotion by Richard Schumacher
LSEM Director of Programs & Services