We live in a culture that produces a population of people who care way too much what others think of us. Praise and acceptance might be the highest two deities in our world today. No one is exempt from this pressure. We all design our lives and 12 shamemake choices that help us avoid shame at all costs. I don’t think this is anything new. The societal pressure of our culture or any culture, past, present, or future, molds us to fit comfortably into the world around us. We like to fit it. We like to be accepted. This is one of the reasons that many disciples left Jesus in the course of His earthly ministry as well as the thousands of years that have followed. Just as Peter said, “I don’t know him” around a campfire, we too feel that pressure to disassociate ourselves from Christ in the company of those who disapprove.

The New Testament’s main objective in our lives is to conform it to Christ’s likeness. It involves identification with Him and His sufferings. The author of the book of Hebrews exhorts us to stick to our path. He writes, “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Further, he exhorts us to “pick up our cross and follow Him” several times in the Gospels. Lepers, those shamed by their disease, were forced to live outside the camp in the Old Testament. It was in this realm that Christ was executed. The book of Hebrews goes on in 13:13 to say, “So let us go to him outside the camp. Let us be willing to suffer the shame he suffered.”

I believe that the first step in following Jesus is a public identification with Him in water Baptism by immersion. Immersion is important because it illustrates the going down as in death as Jesus did. Paul makes this connection in Colossians 2:12-14. He writes, “…having been buried with him in baptism…” Baptism is our identification with Christ’s shameful death on the cross. But the resurrection, pictures so perfectly in immersion, speaks powerfully of new life. Paul goes on, “Baptism…in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses … God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…” As a result of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, the shame of our identification in His death is turned into the glory of our identification with His resurrection. The tables are thus turned. Those who cause shame for identification with Christ in this world are the ones to be shamed in the end. Paul goes on in verse 15 and says, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.”