Thursday, October 07, 2010
Today’s Topic: Volunteering for Humiliation Detail
Today’s Text: Isaiah 20:2 –at that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.
I want to continue the thoughts we started yesterday. As we read on in the 20th chapter of Isaiah we discover that the humiliation the prophet must have felt was not a short-term thing. In fact, it lasted for three years (see verse 3). What faith in God Isaiah had! He obeyed for three years before God revealed the purpose for his suffering.
Yesterday I asked several people this question – “What would be the most humiliating thing that could happen to you?” I answered my own question first and told them about the occasional dream I have of forgetting to get dressed before going onto the platform of our church to preach. That loosened them up so they would share.
One person said they would be humiliated by losing control of their finances and having to file bankruptcy. Another said they would not want to be accused of a sexual sin and have it made public. Another responded with a fear of developing Tourette’s Syndrome. One person said they didn’t want to experience the humiliation of a public reprimand by their boss at work. Everyone I asked had a fear of humiliation of some form.
Every one of those fears was motivated by a need to protect the perception of other people’s opinion of them. The need for acceptance and approval goes much deeper than we realize, and we may be in denial about how many of our behaviors and activities are the product of those two needs.
As I thought about this yesterday and last night, I realized that we probably have far greater faith in our own ability to accomplish acceptance and approval than we do in God’s ability to keep us safe in the palm of His hand. We place far more emphasis on the avoidance of pain in the immediate than we do on the elimination of pain in God’s eternal glory. We focus intently on trying to make life comfortable today when God has told us that the sufferings of today are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us when Jesus appears.
What do we not believe about that? Do we doubt that the glory of God will sufficiently remove any and all memories of past sufferings? Do we not understand that God is telling us that we must suffer in this life as His followers? In fact, we cannot experience the fullness of God’s power in our lives unless we are willing to suffer as Jesus did. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10)
I must spend more time evaluating the everyday experiences of life. The odds of me forgetting to get dressed on a Sunday morning are pretty slim. But the reality is that there are days when I forget – no, I choose intentionally for the purpose of self-preservation – to not get dressed in the clothing of righteousness. There are far too many steps taken in life without the protection of the armor of God. In an effort to avoid shame directed at us by people, we choose to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So think about the simple activities of your life. How many of them are controlled by your need for immediate gratification? How many are chosen because they produce an immediate response of acceptance from others? How many of those same choices and activities are a direct denial of the faith you claim to have in Jesus?
Ponder that today, and then choose to do whatever Jesus asks you to do, no matter how publicly demeaning it is, because you know your life is a light of God’s glory and not a sponge to absorb your own.