We know it in our heads, but do we experience it in our hearts? We say it, but do we mean it?
- God is love!
- God loves me unconditionally!
- God loves me so much that he has accepts me just like I am!
But how do we get these phrases — these statements of truth — into our everyday experience? How can we experience the acceptance of God’s love instead of cowering in shame?
Shame — often referred to as “false guilt” — is our emotional response to supposed short-comings and defects. Embarrassed by what we know and feel about ourselves, we hide our true selves from others to avoid their negative evaluations. The word “shame” itself is derived from a word that means “to cover” and that’s exactly what we do with our shame.
In our shame, we cover over our perceived “short comings” in an attempt to avoid criticism and try to gain the approval and acceptance of others by putting on a false front. Thinking that “they” won’t like “me” if they really knew me as I “truly” am, we act, dress, and talk in a way that protects us from being known.
Of course, many of us feel the same way about God and our shame interferes with our relationship with God. We think “I am so imperfect, how can God accept me?” We feel judged, condemned, and criticized by God because we don’t measure up to his perfection.
The truth of the matter is this: God’s is love, and God is so great that he wraps his arms around our imperfections and shortcomings and draws us to himself in love. God accepts us “just as I am.”
In Christ, we have been accepted by God through faith — “By faith, we have been made acceptable by God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live in peace with him.” (Romans 5:1) Yes, God knows and sees us from the inside out — short-comings, defects, and all — and accepts us completely, totally, and unconditionally.
When we experience the greatness of God’s accepting love, we are freed from shame! We begin to see ourselves in light of God’s love and realize “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Romans 8:1 (NIV) We are free to be ourselves; we don’t have to hide behind our shame. We don’t have to seek the approval of others; in fact we are able to be agents of God’s loving acceptance…all because God in Christ has accepted us!
Stop hiding behind your shame! Turn to God in faith and receive his unconditional and complete acceptance. Share God’s loving acceptance with others and see what kind of difference it makes in you, your relationship with God, and your relationship with others.