If there is one thing we can be certain of when we read the news today it is that we should not be surprised. The staggering rate of the moral revolution has conditioned us this way. Each day’s headlines bring with it a sense of moral ascent (or descent, depending upon your perspective). And here I am not simply talking about so-called same-sex marriage and the erosion of religious liberty. Like dropping a line in the water, you often catch more than just a fish. We are pulling a lot into the boat that shapes our experience.
If one were inclined to be objective they might open their eyes and ears and try to pinpoint a root. Walk through the malls, the public square, flip through the TV, read the paper, listen to the chatter, and talk to strangers.
This is what I’ve been doing for quite some time. My conclusion: we have forgotten how to blush.
Why Would we Blush?
We blush because we are ashamed or embarrassed. In the Scriptures we see this happen in Genesis chapter 3. After Adam and Eve sinned they attempted to hide from God because they were ashamed. They felt accountable to God. There was an awareness of internal shortcomings, corruption, or imperfection as well as an awareness of an external standard. What’s more, they were aware that they were accountable to God and that he would hold them accountable.
Today we are largely ignorant of the first and indifferent to the second. We believe in a self that is not flawed and a God that is not holy. This is why the Apostle Paul’s words ring true: “There was no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:18).
But this is not a virtue. It is actually a deceptive vice that substantiates the divine arrest warrant. When God was indicting the nation of Israel he listed out their sins and how they were expressed in society. He promised destruction and judgment. It was not pretty. And then in time it happened—just as God said it would. When you read through this indictment you will be struck with this verse:
“The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:9)
“Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 8:12)
They did not know how to blush. They were not ashamed of their belittling of God’s glory, rebellion against God’s authority, and dismissing of God’s word.
This is not a good place to be. The Bible and history demonstrate that this intoxication with self-autonomy only leads to disaster. Regrettably, each generation seems to have to learn or refuses to learn this lesson for themselves.
Toward a Healthy Self-Awareness
The only way to really know how to blush is to truly see the cross. Upon the cross Jesus was shamed for us. The eternal Son of God, the Prince of heaven, the utterly perfect and righteous One, he suffered and died for sinners. The cross was an ampitheather of shame. Christ hung naked and was tortured in front of everyone. He was so full of shame that people would turn their face away from him (Isa. 53:3). They were ashamed of how shamed he was! And there upon that cross Jesus took upon himself the guilt, shame and wrath due to those who spurned God’s holy and perfect Law. He bore the wrath in full so that rebels like me and you could receive the blessing of forgiveness, cleansing, and acceptance.
The only way to be truly taught how to blush is to become aware of our sin and convinced of God’s holiness. The best place to see this is the cross of Jesus Christ. Grab a front row seat and become ashamed only to realize that you’re truly loved and accepted.