The Blessing of Embarassment…
You know, we don’t think of being embarassed as a good thing. In fact, in our very hellenistic/enlightenment/Western culture, we tend to think that our reputations are everything. Even the people who like to think that their reputations mean nothing are overly concerned with how they are percieved. Need proof? Ask a “scene kid” if they would care if word got around that they were a “poser”… yes, the devil-may-care punk down the street will threaten to knock your teeth in and challenge you to substantiate your claim in a juvenile attempt to prove you a liar.
To be sure, we don’t have this to the same degree as most Asian cultures… like the Japanese Bushido laws that would force you to commit ritualistic suicide if you lost honor. However, we have just as much love of our reputations yet with a completely different expression. This is why embarassment is such a blessing. As the Bible declares, God “resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
I’m constantly surprised at how often people in the Evangelistic circles take such umbrage when there is some percieved black mark on their reputations. “This person is an embarassment to Christianity!” There is a reason that person is percieved so… mostly, its the pride of the observers. Do not make the mistake of being offended on Christ’s behalf… He is more than capable of taking care of those who challenge His authority or dignity. “But why doesn’t He?!” some would ask. The answer is twofold… (1) He loves that person, and (2) their challenge is so miniscule to his character, it would be like a single protester with a handmade sign sitting outside WalMart Corporate HQ chanting villainous slogans at passersby. Admittedly, I’m a little uncomfortable with making any parallels between Wal Mart and God, but it does serve a decent literary purpose in this case.
God has always taken delight in the Humblest of people. One of the greatest deliverers of Israel’s history (Samson) was raised from being a blind prisoner to being the end of the entire royal Philistine clan. John the Baptist was out in the middle of nowhere eating locusts and wearing camel skins, yet Jesus declared that there was none greater born among women. Moses was wanted for murder in Egypt and raising sheep in the middle of the wilderness… then God Himself shows up in the burning bush to commission Him to lead the Exodus. Compare these examples to the American Ideal Church… that edifice of holiness with financial prosperity, complete hapiness, and incredible social influence. Add a flock of chirping birds and the stray singing flower patch, and it would quickly become unclear if we were looking at a church or a Disney cartoon. This is not compatible with the view Jesus had of the church… the social outcasts, reviled by many, walking in the power of the Spirit to convert the soul of man, and living for another age. Will we really be so concerned about people who jerk when they walk and teach about God physically blessing an individual when all of our buildings, protections, and freedoms have been taken away by the government? When physical persecution and estrangement hit our shores, are we going to be so taken with ourselves that we will still squabble over whether or not the Apostolic and Prophetic offices have ceased to be?
Why do we feel embarassment? Because we think too highly of ourselves. I should not be embarassed that I tripped over a string in the carpet. I’m human, which means that I am also slightly clumsy and prone to not watching where I am going. I should not be embarassed that someone is saying something totally rediculous in the name of my religion… they are human, which means they are just as prone to stumbling philosophically or theologically as I am physically… and vice versa. This is why embarassment is a blessing. When we feel it, we know that we have too much pride. Our reputation on this side of this mortal coil is completely irrelevant. The question to be asked is if our reputation on the other side will match the one we so desperately want on this side… immaculate.
God is ingenious. God is also very passionate that we learn humility to become more like Him. When you consider the infinite humility inherent in the Incarnation of Chrst, this becomes an almost unbearable burden. The kicker is that God takes steps to ensure that we will either enter upon this process or fail miserably at it and leave altogether. To give an extreme example, lets take a look at what is happening at Lakeland Florida. We have a man named Todd Bently. Some of his doctrine and terminology are a bit odd, he has tattoos and a rough past… making him a perfect candidate for a move of the spirit, yeh? Yes, looking in retrospect, I can say with full confidence that what is happening is of God… get over it. So what is the “reasoning” behind this wave? We have a man that many would dub an “embarassment to ‘true’ Christianity” that has a meeting in Florida and people start getting healed (as I already noted in my post “I’m convinced!”). So we, as the rest of the church, have an opportunity to humbly learn that God moves through whom He pleases. During all of this, Todd Bently runs smack into marriage difficulty… giving him an opportunity to eat some humble pie, because his anointing doesn’t make him perfect. The people following this have an opportunity to be humble, realizing that just because Todd Bently is the current pipe that the spirit was flowing through doesn’t mean that he is any less broken and fallen as any of us ever were. Salvations and healings happened, and that can’t be disputed… so God was lifted up, and all of us have a choice: either be humbled or get bitter. The same pattern erupted in Toronto, Brownsville, Azuza Street… you get the idea.
Yes, I do believe that God sends “embarassment” our way because He is taking pot shots at the interior monuments to our own greatness that we have built. Jesus Himself made a comment equating following Him and hating your own life. As one preacher once said, “God isn’t out to hurt our pride… He is out to kill it.” In our efforts to de-Greece the church, we should find a way to get rid of the American ideal of perfectionistic glory. Unaware, humanism has crept its way into the church psyche… “We’re saved, so we should have it all together– perks, pleasure and power; the American way.” This theistic humanism is precisely why God allows “embarassing” individuals to come to prominence. The questions to be asked when we feel that embarassment are: why are we feeling embarassed, who are we embarassed for, and what is the proper response to that embarassment? Here’s a free hint… pray!