Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Should (Not) Be Ashamed

Romans 1:16 presents a  challenge to me when I experience the temptation to water-down the  Gospel message...or worse, tempted to avoid telling people about Jesus at all. The apostle Paul suffered far greater persecution for proclaiming the Gospel I probably ever will (though with the increasing hostility toward Christians even in the United States, one never knows), yet he made no apology for preaching the Good News.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ~~Romans 1:16 (ESV)

If the Gospel is indeed  "good news" (which is, in fact, the very meaning of the word "gospel"), why on earth would Paul mention the possibility of shame connected with it? And why am I often tempted to downplay it? Why do so  many people work so tirelessly to eradicate Christianity from public discourse? Isn't Good News always a joy to give and to receive?

Well, not this good news. This Gospel that Jesus died for our sin presupposes that humans are sinners in need of saving. Therefore, people cannot accept the good news of salvation until they first accept the bad news that we are inherently sinners with absolutely no potential of commending ourselves to a holy and just God. Who wants to confront their loved ones with the fact that they stand condemned before God, destined for eternity in hell unless they trust the shed blood of Jesus Christ as their sole claim to righteousness?

Telling people the bad news in order to offer them the Gospel places us in a position of being vilified and rejected. Consequently, we do (God help us) feel shame when we make efforts to proclaim the Gospel. Our non-Christian family and friends actively shame us by calling us intolerant, fanatical and brainwashed. I've been told to my face on several occasions that my faith has filled me with hatred, that it makes me a bigot and that I have no sense of fun. Few Christians enjoy receiving such harsh accusations, particularly when we're trying to direct people to the only Person Who has the power to save them.

But His power, demonstrated in the Gospel of His resurrection, keeps me from succumbing to shame. Jesus alone offers freedom from the death sentence that engulfs mankind. He frees us, by the power of His Holy Spirit, from our slavery to sin, graciously enabling us to repent and live lives for the purpose of pleasing Him. So, even though friends and family sometimes try to shame me into being silent about the Gospel, I consider it an honor to tell people that the Savior died for them and rose three days later to give them new life.

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