11th September 2019

The Collar of Shame

“As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’”
Romans 10:11 (NIV)

My pet dog had a problem of excessive itching – I had tried everything. The vet said it was habit – a habit that needed to be broken. He recommended a lampshade type collar that would restrict the movement involved in scratching. I struggled to find the collar in a pet store, so I asked an assistant for help. “Oh” she declared, “you mean the collar of shame!” I was taken aback at the name: what an indictment! My dog had developed a habit and now had to wear this ‘collar of shame’!

Many nations are haunted by their past. History tells of appalling misdeeds, which make honest citizens squirm. Indeed, there are publications which give guidelines on making national apologies. The scourge of slavery built western society—a shocking fact that is hard to bear.

A sense of regret is not confined to nations, it also affects established religion. Pope John Paul II made many apologies. During his long reign as Pope, he apologized to Jews, Galileo, women, people convicted by the Inquisition, Muslims killed by the Crusaders and almost everyone who had allegedly suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church over the years.

History is seeped in guilt, some acknowledged, much hidden. How do we as Christians react to this culpability? Lewis Smedes the Professor of theology and ethics for twenty-five years at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California wrote, “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

God does not want us to bear a ‘collar of shame.’ The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Sin is a habit, sin creates shame, but God forgives our repented sins and demands that we love our fellow man. No matter who or how he is, we are our brother’s keeper. Peace and reconciliation begin and continue with us. God heals the broken-hearted and restores the crushed spirit (Psalm 34:18). We are cleansed from our sins by Christ’s blood and given the power from the Holy Spirit to move from our past into a God-filled future of love toward our fellow man. God has wiped our life’s slate clean and yearns to erase our blood-soaked history forever. He will, in His time.

Prayer
Father, thank you for your forgiveness and mercy.
Amen

Study by Irene Wilson
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About the Author:
Irene Wilson is a Deaconess in the Watford Congregation of Grace Communion International, where she also serves on the Pastoral Council.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom Watford
St. Peter’s Church
61 Westfield Avenue
Watford, Herts.
WD24 7HF

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11AM

Local Congregational Contact:
George Henderson
Phone: 01923-855570
Email: george.sueann.henderson49@gmail.com

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