Shame is a painful emotion. It is usually associated with embarrassment or a feeling of guilt for something that we have genuinely done wrong. In this sense of the word, it is a good kind of pain that helps us to avoid moral and ethical trip ups. It is for this reason that most of society has such a disdain for people who are shameless. Someone who has no shame is an ugly person who poses a danger to themselves, and to the communities in which they live. Good shame leads people to value the gospel. But there is another kind of shame that is truly unpleasant, and every bit as ugly as the person who is shameless. This kind of shame serves only selfish purposes. It is made up of an embarrassment one has for being associated with another person. It is self serving. An example is the person who is ashamed of his parents because they are poor, or who is ashamed of the good community in which he was raised because it doesn’t fit what he thinks others may see as valuable. In this sense, shame becomes the rejection of something that should be embraced.
It is the evil kind of shame that Jesus strongly warns against. He tells us that if any of us are ashamed of him, then he will be ashamed of them when he returns in his glory at the end of sinful human history (Mark 8:38). What this means is that if a person rejects Jesus, then he rejects what Jesus has done for him. If he rejects what Jesus has done for him, then Jesus will reject that person. To be embarrassed of Jesus is to reject something that should be embraced with enthusiasm.
Without embracing Jesus, it will be terribly difficult to serve him appropriately. Consider Paul’s charge not to be ashamed of the gospel, but to recognize it as the power of God for Salvation. If you can’t recognize that power, and if you are incapacitated by shame, then you cannot serve God by claiming or advancing that gospel. You are useless to others in your duties to tell them about Jesus, because you are embarrassed by him.
Instead, a person should be willing to suffer through the shame pushed by others and glorify God in that suffering by rejecting that shame (1 Peter 4:14-16).
When you experience a shame for Christ, recognize its evil, remind yourself what he has done for you, and then serve him with enthusiasm and glorify his goodness.