Today’s western culture loves a good scandal. Entire genres of television cash in on our appetite for scandal – including soap operas and most reality shows. Scandal even drives much our 24/7 news cycle and plays a role in shaping our perception of reality about the world at large and our own lives at home.
Scandal sells, in part because it captures our individual sense of guilty shame and projects it at a safe distance onto the lives of the real (or fake) folks on television or in the news stories. Few of us need someone to clue us in on our own weaknesses or failures, and most of us live carrying a hidden shame that we know would disqualify us from the approval of others should its source ever be displayed for all to see.
The truth is we were all flawed by the inglorious, shame producing, weakness transferring Fall of Adam and Eve at the beginning of life on planet Earth. There has never been child born without the ache of shame from the scandal of man’s sinful state – except One; and that’s one of the reasons why Jesus of Nazareth is our only hope for salvation.
Jesus came born of a woman but without the influence and partnership of the seed of a man – the immaculate conception! He was fully human, but without the twisted internal scandal of sin rotting on the inside of him. Because He had no sin nature and the present help of Holy Spirit, Jesus never sinned and qualified Himself as our sacrificial substitution. Jesus died for us and as us to save us from the scandal on the inside of us.
But for most folks, here’s where the real scandal begins. As Holy Spirit starts to unpack what the Apostle Paul described as the “width, length, depth, and height” of God’s love for us (Ephesians 3:18 NKJV), we realize that Jesus did not come because God was obsessively compulsive about sin and needed to “fix” us; nor did He just pity us in our shame. No – God actually LOVES us. And for most of us, even just a small glimpse of this glorious reality feels infinitely more scandalous than a lifetime of our shame because of sin.
But it’s true – God loves us… with a never-ending (Jeremiah 31:3), shame overcoming (1 John 4:18), eternal life giving (John 3:16) love. There is no way around it. In fact, this revelation is the bedrock of all truth. Embracing the scandalous, undeserved, unchanging love God has for us is the key that unlocks all other revelation and the power by which all other spiritual principles effectively work (Galatians 5:6, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4:19).
Our hearts can hardly comprehend the magnitude of this scandal. The God of purity and holiness ran out of the infinite freedom of eternity into our finite world chasing us down while we were still shameful because He valued us so much. In our minds we are too small, too damaged, too worthless. Our hearts agree with the Psalmist, “what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (NLT) And yet the scandal remains: God does! In fact, when He calculated the cost of loving us through Jesus He did not see the exchange as a loss, but He saw a win.
It’s time we begin to fully embrace the scandal of God’s love for us. It is in the revelation and experiencing of God’s scandalous love that the shame of our twisted old identity fades away and our new identity in Christ as sons and daughters of our Father – the God who cares for us – begins to transform us into the greatness of His image.