How to break the power of shame


We sing it at the close of the Maundy Thursday service: “Christ of the open hands. . . let us come with you.”


Do we mean it?


Christ of the open hands.


Hands held open in love. Torn open by nails. Opened in embrace so wide it took Your breath away.


Usually I walk home past the five star hotels and fancy restaurants, the chic shops and cafes piping music out onto the sidewalk where potted flowers bloom bright yellows and purples and reds. After the Good Friday service I turn right instead of left. Prayer-walk my way down Granville street. Past the covered windows with their gaudy neon tubing advertising 25c peep shows and XXX-rated videos. Past the row of gay bars closed up tight and the man having a loud conversation with his invisible companion, his terrified eyes piercing mine, seeing through me.


Christ of the open hands. You embraced all of this.


My hands are safe in my coat pockets. Folded across my chest. Clenched into fists. Anything to stop the wounds from showing. To keep from gaining new ones.


Christ of the open hands, you teach me this: the way through death to life always passes through open hands. Your open hands. And my own.


For this is the wonder: when you returned from death, pulsing with life in your new and forever body, you kept your wounds. You did not toss them aside, brush them off, hide them as shameful, though the wounds of crucifixion were the most shameful of all wounds.


You kept them. Maybe to teach me this truth. That in the right-side-upness of your kingdom (which seems upside-down to my world-saturated vision), the wounds are the places where love speaks loudest.


I hear again my brother’s words, how for years he was mad at missionaries because they never shared that they had problems. “If you want me to be a brother and you’re not sharing, something is wrong.”


Our enemy is a master deceiver, keeping us hiding our wounds in shame.


But this is the grand truth of grace. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)


And this is how we break the power of shame: we let Christ’s wounds touch ours. We overcome the accuser, this master deceiver, by telling the whole truth. There is now no condemnation. The power of grace and truth has conquered the power of shame. We live free and whole by the blood of the Lamb who destroyed the accuser’s power, and by refusing to hide. We stop playing the game of the accuser. Stop hiding in shame and giving him more opportunity to attack us. There is now no condemnation.


“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. . .” (Revelation 12:10-11)


This is what the world needs to know: that grace is big enough to embrace us in the midst of our – yes, our, woundedness. We are human. We are broken. And those are the only prerequisites for receiving grace. Those, and the willingness to open our clenched, wounded hands and receive.


Shout it loud: We aren’t perfect. And we don’t have to be. For Christ forever presses His wounds up against ours and fills our broken places with life.


Christ of the open hands. . . let us come with you.

Related posts:

When you’re ashamed of the mess 

When you have nothing to give 

When you fear the cross

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