Some days there are words that come and settle in our souls; words that seem to come without being invited. These are often words that we need desperately and maybe don’t want all at the same time. We can’t predict when they will come, or what message the Spirit will bring with their arrival, but at times God’s words come crashing in and demand our attention even if we don’t really know what we are looking at or listening for.
Today’s words were spoken—or rather read—last night as my wife and I completed our journey through the book of Hebrews. What’s interesting to me is that last night these particular words were given no special attention. We talked about things written before these words, and things written after, but these particular words solicited no special conversation. I remembering hearing myself read them, and remember brief thoughts that flashed around them. But we had other things to discuss from this closing chapter and these words were, for the most part, overlooked.
So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:13-14
I think what first brought these words back to my mind was the one word disgrace.
Disgrace. This is not a word that sells well. And it’s not a word we often use in calling people either to begin their journey of following Jesus or to continue it. As I said, it just doesn’t sell well. This is not a highly motivational concept. It’s tough to spin disgrace and make it sound appealing.
So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.
We love the idea of Jesus bearing our shame. Of him taking on our burdens, our sin, our brokenness and paying the price for us. We love this—and we should. But how do we miss this other piece of it so often? Jesus takes on our sin and shame, Jesus pays the price, but we must then be identified with him in his disgrace.
It’s really our disgrace anyway. It’s our shame he bears and somehow we readily accept him taking it, but hesitate at being identified with him in any way that brings disgrace to us. How do we, who are the source of such shame, become so proud and unwilling to be disgraced? We seem to want Jesus to take our disgrace so we can continue pursuing the glories and honors of this world as if this is what we are living for.
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
This is the rub of disgrace. The disgrace we have to deal with because of Jesus is this world’s disgrace. It comes from the call to downward mobility and a life of service to others—all disgraceful to this world. It comes from loving as Jesus does, loving by giving up one’s self and one’s rights for the other. It comes by pursuing the marginalized and the throw aways of society. Bearing the disgrace of Jesus is living sacrificially.
It’s time to come outside the camp that is not our home, to step outside the city that isn’t our hope and bear the beautiful disgrace of loving like Jesus and doing the Father’s will instead of our own.