“You can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with your relatives.” That’s an old saying around these parts and it reflects a reality that sometimes your family can embarrass you. Truth be told I actually try to embarrass my daughters when we are in public. I’ll dance or sing out loud and my oldest will say, “Daddy, stop. You’re embarrassing me!” Mission accomplished!
But seriously, there is something to be said about the power of family to endure even the time when we embarrass ourselves. You’re supposed to be able to count on family. That’s why it is so painful when you can’t!
Look at our lesson today in Hebrews 2:11-18:
BRETHREN, he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I, and the children God has given me. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.
St. Paul is trying to get these Hebrew Christians to realize just why them staying faithful to the Faith is so very important! You see, they were considering abandoning their Christian faith. It was tough being a Christian at that time and they were considering leaving the Church! God forbid!
There is a two-fold mystery here that reveals an awesome truth: God is not ashamed of us.
First, God is not ashamed of us because He is our Source. We all came from Him. As Creator, our Father is not ashamed to claim us as His own. To be sure, we give many reasons for God to reject us, and yet he never does. God continues to call us to Himself no matter what we do. But, our behavior makes us ashamed of ourselves and even ashamed of Him. I can’t tell you how many people have confided in me that they don’t come to church because they are ashamed of what they’ve done. Their own shame does what God never does, keeps them from Him! It’s all one-sided!
Finally, God is not ashamed of us because He became One of us! The mystery of the Incarnation means that God loves His creation so much; God loves you and me so much that He became one of us for us! This is why the Church insists that our theology of God becoming man in His Son, our Lord Jesus, is simply not optional. This isn’t something we can agree to disagree on and still be fellow Christians. God taking on flesh and taking His flesh from one of us binds us to God in a way that makes eternal joy possible. Without this bond, we stay disconnected from the Source of Life Himself.
So, God as Creator and Savior displays a two-fold mystery of love for us from God. He is not ashamed to call you His child. He is not ashamed to declare to the whole universe that Christ, our Lord, is also our Brother! God is not ashamed to embrace you as His own. So, why are we humans so estranged from our Father?
Because the shame is on our end. We are either too disbelieving in His love to trust He truly does love us or we are ashamed of Him. Either way, the deficit is on our side, not His. And the consequences? Well, we cut ourselves off from joy. We cut ourselves off from strength and help and hope. Every place where we suffer the shame of ourselves or Him makes us vulnerable to temptation. And it doesn’t have to be this way!
Today, God is not ashamed to embrace you. God loves you and desires your companionship; not for His sake – no, He’s fine. No, God desires your companionship completely for your benefit. He claims you as His family. He is not ashamed to call you “brother” or “sister.” And being Orthodox on Purpose gives you the tools to return the love to Him!