I am increasingly becoming a fan of John Piper's ministry. In general, I tend to shy away from Christian "pop stars" though I've found Piper's candid yet personal presentation of scripture to be first-rate. One of the most interesting aspects of his organization is that literally hundreds of sermons (audio/video/text) are available gratuit from the Desiring God website dating back to 1980. It makes for a good study of both the man and the ministry. Amazingly, they even have his candidating sermon. Impressive.
Shame is that horrible sense of guilt or failure when you just don't measure up in front of the people whose approval you want very much. It's what that little kid feels in the Christmas program when he forgets his lines, and there is that unending time where nobody says anything, and his heart is thundering so loud in his chest he thinks it is gonna explode, and the tears start to roll down his face, and the little kids in the front start to twitter brutally. We know what shame is. Or it's when the President of the United States has to admit that the tapes have been found, and played, and all the foul language and deceit is clear for the whole nation to look at, and he stands publicly, disgraced. We know what shame is. But what's the opposite of shame. What's the alternative to being put to shame? It's remembering the lines, and hearing the applause right? It's governing well and being re-elected. The opposite of being shamed is being honored, usually...
What you love determines what you will feel shame about. If you love for men to think highly of you, you will feel horrible shame when they don't. If you love for men to think highly of Christ, you will feel shame when they belittle him on your account.
Introspectively, what do I feel shame about? What have I felt ashamed about? Whoa... Around academic friends and family, I've felt ashamed about not having successfully published any first-author papers, that I'm not on a tenure-track, that no patents or companies blossomed out of my research in graduate school. Outside my committee, it's not clear that anyone has used anything from my dissertation. Tools like LinkedIn are can be particularly shame-inspiring. From a career track perspective, from a start-up perspective... you name it, I've felt the shame. Why? It's because, at the bottom of it all, I do love for men to think highly of me, especially certain family members. Pray that we might love the opinion of our Father in heaven much much more than the love of men.
Whenever something is of tremendous value to you, whenever you cherish something because of its uniqueness or its power or its beauty, there is an inevitable longing that you draw others' attention to it so that they can share your high regard for it. And that's why Paul's all-consuming goal in life was that people magnify Christ, because Christ was of infinite value to Paul. He wanted other people very much to appreciate and magnify Christ with him.
In one of the earlier clips from Rico Tice's Christianity Explored (ask me for a copy), he very effectively presents the "what if everything you ever said, or did, or thought was posted up on the walls of a museum for everyone to see" scenario. Of course, there would be a few things that you'd be very proud of - graduation, getting married, having kids. Perhaps that time when you generously helped that friend, or that homeless person. I don't know about you, but there is a good volume of material that absolutely no one should see. Forget about the papers, and the career, if people saw some of this stuff, I'd go hide in a cave and never come out.
Do you know what the "bad" news is? God sees all that and he knows it - every detail. I do not deserve any relationship with a pure and holy and perfect God. If you knew all of me, you probably wouldn't want a relationship with me either! BUT, the good news is this, that "while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:6-9)" Oh how he loves you and me.