Beau Hughes, who is one of my favorite pastoral thinkers and preachers, took The VIllage Church Denton through a six week series entitled He Covers Our Shame. I’m working my way through it at the suggestion of a coworker, and I’m thankful he pointed me to Beau’s words. Hughes has a gift to research, distill, and present truth to the heart in a way to exalts Christ and dismembers our defenses – and he’s doing it faithfully among the people of Denton. Here’s a quote from week 4, entitled, Despising Our Shame beginning right around the 10 minute mark:
J.I. Packer wrote that, “habit-forming is the Spirit’s ordinary way in leading us as Christians on in holiness.” In other words the way we begin to live out our identity as children that have been freed from shame and had our shame covered is primarily through habit forming as the Spirit empowers us and leads us along. And it’s interesting now, you know, because the research about shame is showing, especially from a Christian perspective as we think about this, that those who live in increasingly and pronounced healing and freedom from shame are those who, despite the ongoing presence of sin and shame in their lives, have developed habits and practices in their daily life that cultivate their trust and their confidence that through Jesus, they are loved, accepted, and delighted in by God. So, in other words, those that are walking in pronounced freedom, and are learning to walk in their identity, to put on the covering of Christ day by day are those who have developed habits and practices that have helped them to hold fast to the assurance of hope that they have been washed and have been made clean by Jesus.
This process. The way the Spirit forms us into the image of Christ – the way he combats the seeds of doubt sown by the serpent in the Garden – to help us believe with childlike joy that God is good, and He does love us. This is worthy of our attention and thought at every corner of our lives – because we need desperately to be formed into something else than the image of our distractions and diversions. We are meant for Christ.
As the new year rolls around, and you may be thinking and planning of how to be a better you in 2018 – may I encourage you to be a weaker you? A more vulnerable and compassionate, gentle-tongued and creaturely you? A child of God, trusting their father and walking in the covering of Christ in the moment to moment life among others who are just as scared, needy, and prone to be defensive as you.
With an eye toward the impossible that only Christ can make possible, we plan our days and sow toward a field where we pray the Spirit bears fruit. Sowing takes effort, and it takes work. As Dallas Willard often said, Grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort. Here is one of my favorite articles from Dallas on the process of intentional habits and the work of the Spirit in our lives: Living a Transformed Life Adequate to Our Calling.
With you, friend. He is trustworthy, patient, kind and loving. And He is calling us forward to greater life.