TODAY’S SCRIPTURE 1 Corinthians 12:21-25
The church governed by the love of God is perfectly situated to help sinners heal from unhealthy shame. In fact, being a place of healing should be a top priority for us. We don’t play the role of condemning others (Romans 8:1), so we shouldn’t create that toxic environment for each other. Paul makes it clear to Titus that even if we do create a church environment built on shame, it isn’t helpful or healthy. It is the “grace of God…training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions…” (Titus 2:11-12, emp. added). We see churches become shame factories when they, whether intentionally or not, make people feel less than. It can be specific groups based on gender, race, or income level made to feel less than. We can shame those who have past sin in their lives but are never treated the same after confession and repentance. We may unintentionally make a shameful environment when we give off the persona that we are virtually sinless.
We are exhorted to confess repeatedly in Scripture because confession exposes that of which we are ashamed. Shame finds healing in the light. Confession is the engine of humility constantly reminding the church that “all have sinned and fall short” (Romans 3:23).
Paul deals with church shaming in 1 Corinthians 11 and 12 as he deals with the Lord’s Supper and spiritual gifts. Some wealthier members in Corinth were eating during the meal connected to the Lord’s Supper, while the poorer members went hungry. “Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?” (1 Corinthians 11:22). In our passage for the day, Paul speaks to how each person within the church has a place of utmost importance. Every single person! There is no dispensable person in your congregation. Shame, by definition, tells me I am inherently lacking. At my core I am not enough. Yet Paul tells us when we join Jesus’ body, those who once lacked are given “greater honor to the part that lacked it…” (1 Corinthians 12:24).
Today, I will…consider if I am doing my part to make my home congregation a place where people find healing for their shame. Is my relationship with my brothers and sisters in Jesus healthy enough they will feel comfortable confessing to me? Do my actions say I put one group over another within my home congregation? Consider what the first beatitude in Matthew 5 has to do with this topic.