In Asia, we’re predominantly an honour-shame culture. This means that the honour and image of individuals, family, communities, tribes and nations is of utmost importance. We avoid negative social judgements associated with anything less than honour. Honour, on the other hand, refers to esteem and treatment with respect. Specific to the Chinese people group, It’s usually dependent on riches and achievements.

There is no doubt why we grew up with these narratives from a young age:

“Shame on you!”
“It’s bad to (behave this way).”
“Why can’t you be more like your cousin/brother/sister/friend?”

Since culture is like water what is to fish, we’re most likely unaware of our tendencies to believe and even perpetuate some of these shame-based worldviews. These societal expectations and responses are most often subconscious, seeping into the body of Christ in the way we view God, life and ministry. In communities of faith where we are meant to live out godly ways of treating the weak, broken and disgraced in our midst, sometimes we are the ones who think of ourselves as experts and inadvertently play into the evil that deceives the weak and keeps the broken captive.

Shame causes men to hide from God and each other because we are not enough. It drives us quite insanely into striving – trying to measure up by our efforts what we could never accomplish, creating a veneer of having arrived when in fact, the pride we feel is a deception that something’s quite wrong inside.

In all honesty, everyone experiences shame, since we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) through sin. Sin disrupts and breaks down the perfect design when He created Adam and Eve, twisting the human heart until it fragments and perpetuates evil instead of the goodness God envisioned. We have lost our status as children of God, made in His image and likeness, and shame consumes our souls.

Yet the Lord desires to restore honour to us so that we can come into the identity He has written about us. Imago Dei, the image bearers of His glory, His beauty, His majesty.

To honour is to esteem with regard and to raise to the highest place.

The honour God bestows is not the same as the world’s. It is based on our relationship with Him, not accolades or acclaims we strive to hoard under our names. He bestows the honour on us as children when we respond to His beckoning, His pursuit, His love.

Obedience to the King, out of love for what He has already done on the cross, is paramount – have we aligned our whole hearts with His dreams, His visions, His words, His judgements, His ways? Have we offered the sacrifices of our will when we have all the right to take back control over injustice, losses and tragedies? Have we prioritised our walk with Him, even when we continue to be unknown, despised, and persecuted on this side of eternity? Have we done the littlest things He asked of us, even when no one sees or recognises them?

The time is coming when the Holy Spirit will move like the days of Pentecost. He will fall on men like divided tongues of fire, a glory that crowns the unlikeliest of men with honour. May we have eyes to see, and recognise His movements in this new age. May we have the courage to receive the honour Father God is conferring on His true sons and daughters, that we may have crowns to cast down at the feet of His throne when we finally meet face to face, giving Him all the honour, glory, and power (Revelations 4:10-11).