Thursday, September 27, 2012

With Confidence Unashamed

On Thursdays I have been sharing a little bit about what I have been learning as I read through 1 John.

We are ending a section where John talks about the unity of the body and the unity of the believer with the Father and the Son.  A word that keeps coming up again and again is “remain.”  These ideas are countered against the adversaries of Christ who do not “remain” and are neither unified with the body of believers or the Father and Son. 

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”  1 John 2:28 NIV

Over the last several weeks we have explored the word menō a number of times.  We have learned that it is translated remain, abide and live.  It carries with it the idea of “taking up residence.”  It will keep appearing throughout 1 John from time to time.  In this verse, it is translated continue. 

When I read a word over and over again in a passage like this it makes me think that it is important.  John keeps repeating it for a reason.  I think it is because he has come to know that abiding is central to what it means to be in relationship with God.  It is the lifelong task of the believer to walk in step with the Spirit.

When I continue in him I live dependent on Christ.  I look for the ways that He is at work around me.  I embrace the opportunities that cross my path to love others.  I listen for His guidance in the midst of conversations.  I seek Him in the midst of choices that need to be made in my life.  I notice when I am living outside of the Spirit’s influence and ask Him to help me find my way back to a surrendered place.  It is living a life of learning to respond to the Holy Spirit in faith.

John tells the believers, “continue in him so that when [Jesus] appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

John tells the believers Jesus is coming back.  When he does, those who abide will be confident and unashamed before him.  I think about how this verse, in context, is in a section that discusses those who have not remained.  It seems as though with this concept of continuing in him there is an allusion to the idea that some will not be confident and unashamed when he appears because they have not abided.

In Greek there are two words for confidence and two words for unashamed.  Confidence is echo + parrēsia.  It means “to have” + “the absence of fear.”  Unashamed is aischynomai + mē.  It is “the feeling of shame arising from something that has been done” + “not” (suggesting nonexistence when existence was possible) (VINE’S Expository Dictionary).

It is the thought of shame that brings to mind a passage of a book that I read last fall, talking about the difference between shame and guilt.

“When we sin, guilt is the right response.  Guilt is used by God to show us our need for him.  Guilt is not our problem.  If all we felt were guilt, we would admit the wrong and run to God for help.  But that is not what we do.  We feel guilty for not measuring up, but then we feel shame on top of that.  And shame is a different thing altogether. 

Guilt says I did wrong.
Shame says I am wrong.
Guilt deals with behavior.
Shame deals with identity.
Guilt leads to repentance.
Shame leads to hiding […]

Guilt is a good thing, a God-reminder when things aren’t right and an opportunity to change them.  Shame is what happens when we let guilt fester and sink deeper and don’t deal with it.  Shame seeps into our skin when we aren’t looking and takes our spirit hostage.” (p.117)

When I “continue in him” I do not live in shame.  Instead, I deal with my guilt.  I recognize that I have messed up, in so many ways.  I admit it.  I run to God for help.  I turn to walk in a new way, in dependence on him. 

This is what gives confidence before him—knowing that where sin had left a crimson stain on my life, Jesus has washed it white as snow.  It is through relationship one moment at a time with the one who truly knows how to live that will allow me to stand before him with confidence unashamed. 

This is the journey of a lifetime; and it is full of becoming.

Join me in singing a prayer that we might abide today?


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we seek to continue in Christ.  As we allow guilt to lead to repentance and change, may we find that we do not live in shame.  May we find this kind of Spirit-led life leads us to living confident and unashamed bringing grace and peace to others as we come and go.

Jessica :)

P.S.  If you are curious about the Greek for the words appears and coming, I explored those too. 

Appears is phaneroō.  It means “to manifest” or “to be manifested.”  It is more than to appear.  To be manifested is to be revealed in one’s true character.  “To make visible, clear, manifest, known.”  “To uncover, lay bare, reveal.” (VINE’S Expository Dictionary).

Coming is parousia. Literally “a presence.”  para “with”  and ousia “being.”  It denotes both the “arrival” and a consequent “presence with”  (VINE’S Expository Dictionary).  John Stott’s commentary says this word “was the usual expression for the visit of a King or Emperor.”

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