I don’t remember summer being so sweltering in Johnstown before. Constantly I am armed with a bottle of water these days, and I usually finish it up in the first 10 minutes. So today is no exception. I just downed a mug of delicious iced coffee, am chugging water, and am literally leaning into my rotating fan as I write up these thoughts.
About a year ago, or nine months ago or something, I joined a few friends at an informal hour of prayer. With nothing really on the agenda, we just prophesied over each other, reminded each other of Scripture, and the like. When I pulled away by myself to reflect, I had a vision where the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) played out in front of me, but I was the prodigal son. In the vision, upon returning home and receiving the father’s forgiveness and blessing, I still acted awkward and uncomfortable. My servants were trying to attend to me, and I was so embarrassed because I felt I no longer deserved them. When I walked into a room, since I was an important son of an important, wealthy landowner, everyone in the room stood to attention and respected me — but I tried to slink into the shadows and pretend I was unimportant.
I was an ashamed, scared fraud dressed in a prince’s clothing, instead of being a prince.
When the vision ended, I was able to immediately attach an application — an application that perhaps all of us could benefit from.
The work that Christ does in us when He saves us is create us into a new person. It is a process so similar to being born again that He even calls it “being born again”… fancy that! Our new identity is one of an important son or daughter of an important, wealthy King. And it is one of God’s deepest and truest and wildest desires that we live from this perspective.
If we could grasp the authority we have (simply because of who our rich, important Dad is), we wouldn’t be timid about telling darkness when it is uninvited to the party! If we could understand the absolute treasure we are to the Kingdom, we would accept with humble gladness the favorable treatment that comes with being a prince!
I mean, wouldn’t it be inappropriate — downright terrifying, even – if we had the opportunity to meet a beloved prince of Narnia and he was actually an indecisive, scared child filled with shame? That’s no way for a prince to behave!
Or what if a prince came riding through your Medieval town one day and weakly delivered an order to his troops, followed by, “But you probably won’t listen to me anyway because I’m a nobody”? Wouldn’t that be bizarrely out-of-place?
Yet all too often, and to our own demise, isn’t this the way we act and behave sometimes? God restores us to a place of honor and importance, but we still feel like a peasant, a pauper, a fraud? We may even think, Who am I to feel important and lovely? Some Christians may even wrongly classify this as humility. But to entertain such thoughts of shame or to reject the honor God delights to show us is to actually oppose the work of Jesus on the cross. Yes, to act, think, and behave from a place of shame is to accept lies from the devil as truth. If the devil can’t stop you from being transformed by Jesus, he will at least trick you into feeling guilty, ashamed, and unimportant so that you never act like you’ve been transformed.
Now to be clear, of course I am not advocating a lack of humility. Webster defines humility as “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people,” an attribute the Bible and I both celebrate. Surely there is room to be both humble of heart and operate from our God-given identity as royal sons and daughters — as Jesus did (does). But perhaps we have operated underneath the oppression of false humility, the beating of oneself to a pulp and calling it spiritual. Heaven forbid, maybe we have taught our sons and daughters and church members to do the same.
What I am advocating, though, is overcoming shame. We must, must, must learn to act, think, and behave like the important and strong princes and princesses we are! Anything less than this is inappropriate behavior for royalty, right?
Listen, my treasured friend, you are a prince (or princess). You are not some scared kid dressed like royalty — you ARE royalty, and it’s high time you know the difference! Shame is not humility; shame is a disease that Jesus already dealt with at Calvary, and to operate in shame is to operate under the devil’s thumb.
I cannot teach you how to break out of the fatal cycle of shame, as desperately as I wish I could. It is a supernatural work that you must receive from the gracious hand of Jesus. But the good news is that it’s often easier than you think. After all, it’s not very difficult to open presents on Christmas Morning, is it? If you are a Christian, then the importance, royalty, honor, and favor I have described is yours. The transformation you need, and the rest of the Body of Christ needs you to have, is on the other side of faith.
While you are breaking out of your cocoon, here are a few passages from the Bible to put in your arsenal:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)
Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! (Ephesians 1:3)
If we endure, we will also reign with Him. (2 Timothy 2:12)
He who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God, I will grant to him the privilege to sit beside Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down beside My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Chin up! You are important! You are strong! You are beloved!
And don’t you forget it.