Rhymes with NAME.
There is one word that fits this description that has the ability to maim, paralyze, isolate and even completely destroy a person.
I think it’s Satan’s favorite weapon against us.
We wear it after we have or haven’t done something or something has or hasn’t been done to us.
It’s cloth is heavy and scratchy and smells funny, like an old wool blanket that’s been left out in the rain.
Its weight pulls our shoulders down and draws our heads and eyes toward the ground.
We know that it’s ugly, so we retreat from others so that they won’t see the matted, dirty fabric or smell the stink associated with it.
And somehow, we’ve been tricked into believing that this horrid coat is our fate, our spiritual punishment for our sins and failures, or the sins and failures of others that we wear.
In fact, we wrongly come to believe that it is somehow spiritually appropriate attire, the only outfit we deserve and should wear. As if we are holier by wearing it quietly without complaint.
And so we huddle, cold and damp, exhausted by the weight, sickened by the smell, trapped in a prison we have let shame build around us. Alone. Afraid. Sick and sad.
To all of us who know this wretched garment too well, Jesus says, “May I please take your coat?”
But before I remind us all of what He offers us in exchange, let’s think about the story of the Prodigal Son.
In a nut shell, a Father has two sons – a low-maintenance, well-behaved son, and a wild, self-centered son. The latter, seeking to scratch his immediate gratification itch, asks for his inheritance early, then runs off to squander it in crazy, short-sighted living. He doesn’t realize his grave mistakes until he finds himself sharing food with the pigs, knee deep in mud and filth.
Shame overtakes him and he recognizes that he has been a fool. That he didn’t realize what he’d had in the house of his Father, where every need was met. Where relationship was enjoyed and life was full and rich.
Thinking that the coat of shame is his only option, he heads back home, determined that he is no longer worthy to be called a son, and so will become merely a servant to his Father. He practices what he will say and gets his head around how he will wear shame’s weight for the rest of his days.
But the Father has been outside looking for his return every single day since he’s been gone. Expectant. Longing. Loving.
So when He sees His son and his hunkered shoulders coming toward Him in the distance, He does something so seemingly wrong. He lifts his garment and runs to His long lost son. Two things that a Jewish man of honor in His time would never have done. HE TOOK ON HIS SON’S SHAME!!!! And He didn’t stop running until He got to that boy and threw His arms around Him in the most welcoming embrace.
As if that weren’t enough, He then brought the boy home and threw him a huge party, with all the food and luxury and community that he had missed so desperately when he was sharing a pig’s habitat.
The coat of shame was removed and was replaced with beautiful, fresh, clean-smelling new clothes, with no trace of anything other left.
THIS is Jesus’ answer to shame. THIS is the story of what Jesus did for us when He went to the cross. He didn’t just wear our sin – he also wore our shame and it was nailed to that tree right along with Him.
It is never Jesus’ idea that we wear that awful piece of clothing. Its only redeeming purpose is to put us on the road back home to our Father who longs to take it from us. He has a new garment for us. One that is light and lovely. One that fits us perfectly. One that exudes the sweet smell of grace without strings.
Shake that ragged, smelly, heavy thing off. It doesn’t suit you. Hand it to your Father. He designed something beautiful with your name all over it. Something that feels like you’re wearing nothing at all.
2 Samuel 9:1-11