I was skimming through my sociology book pages as I prepared for an exam, that was just a few moments away, hoping that I could get by with memorizing the important terms. The main themes of racism and social class stuck out in my mind, but the term stigma stood out above everything else I read. After I passed my exam (luckily with an A), I went back to my sociology book and read the section on stigma,
“In ancient Greece, criminals and slaves were branded with hot irons, making a mark called a stigma, from the Greek word for “tattoo.” The stigma was meant to serve as an outward indication that there was something shameful about the bearer, and to this day we continue to use the term to signify some disgrace or failing.”
This short introduction had me tearing up, in the middle of Starbucks. Obviously this paragraph above falls short of tear jerking, but it set up an image in my mind, paralleling the lives of these criminals of ancient Greece and my own. I couldn’t help but think that I should have an enormous stigma on my forehead spelling out the sins and mistakes I’ve made in my life for the whole world to see.
You know when you go through a particular stage of your life where you’re very hard on yourself? Well, I’m entrenched in it as we speak. As I’ve been going through this stage I have continued to realize on a daily basis how absolutely pathetic I am. I don’t say this to gain pity or a hug, rather to say: I feel the need for Jesus’ cleansing blood now more than ever. I think I’ve actually spent the last 21 years of my life thinking that I’m a decent person and that Jesus just adds to that, but the realization that everyone needs to come to at some point is, we are wretched people; only by His grace are we miraculously made whole.
The really amazing thing is that when I finished reading this chapter in my sociology book and spent some time reflecting/talking to God, I decided to do a little more research pertaining to the idea of a stigma. I hopped on my computer and (as I always do) typed the word into my Mac’s dictionary. The third definition in the box stated that in Christian tradition, stigmas are, “Marks corresponding to those left on Jesus’ body by the Crucifixion.”
He directly took that tattoo of yours that should say liar, addict, selfish, whore, angry, bitter (and the list could go on forever), and attached it to Himself.
Instead of us dying the horrifying gruesome death that we deserve…
He did it for us.
“And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
“Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”