Last night in our Missional Community, we looked at the story of the woman at the well in John 4. It's a pretty fascinating story where Jesus approaches the Samaritan woman, and asks her for some water. Jesus in this story we see the power of forgiveness to release from our shame and need to hide.
The woman is the only one at the well, presumably because of who she was. Jesus would later reveal that he knows that she has already had five husbands, and was now with a man she wasn't married too. Needless to say she probably wasn't the most well liked and respected woman in town. So she goes to get her water at a time when everyone else is gone, away from the stares and the whispers. Her shame brought her to the well all alone.
But after her interaction with Jesus, she heads back to town and tells everyone that he "told me everything I ever did." Rather than her mistakes and her past isolating her from her community, because of the grace of Jesus, they are now a primary part of her story. She isn't ashamed and hiding her past she is announcing it as evidence of who Jesus is, and she becomes responsible for many others to come to believe in him as well.
Her shame isolated her, grace restored her.
Jesus demonstrates the power of grace to defeat the power of shame, and restore us to community.