(July 13) Do Not Be Ashamed
"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
For Christians who have grown up in the United States, I have to assume that for most this verse has been a bit difficult to grasp. The encouragement is to not be ashamed of the gospel. Yet for believers in this country, we may wonder, why would anyone be ashamed of it?
For so many years the Christian gospel has been met with respect. Sure, not everyone who has heard the gospel proclaimed has believed the message and placed saving faith in Jesus Christ, but the response of the masses has at least generally been courteous. In fact, this acceptance of "cultural Christianity" (if not true acceptance of Jesus Christ) has been pervasive. Those running for public office made sure to use their religion in their campaign. Many business owners saw to it they belonged to a local church -- not necessarily because they loved the Lord -- but because it was good for business to be perceived as a Christian.
So the admonishment to not be ashamed has likely seemed odd. But, no more. Today people in the U.S. are becoming increasingly intolerant of the Christian gospel. People still respond favorably to being "spiritual," but if you preach the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, expect to meet much resistance.
The result has sadly been many compromises by those who claim to be followers of Christ. The desire to be loved by the world has superseded, in many instances, the quest to be faithful to Scripture. When people only seek as much belief in the Bible as brings them worldly favor, all it takes is for the culture to turn and then everything changes.
Do you really believe God is the Creator?
Do you really believe Jesus was virgin-born?
Do you really believe in eternal heaven and hell?
Do you really believe Jesus performed miracles?
Do you really believe what the Bible says about men, women, and sexuality?
If you answer in the affirmative to the questions above, you know now why the Bible says to not be ashamed of the gospel. Increasingly our culture is one in which fewer people will "fake" being a Christian. To be associated with Christ is becoming more costly all the time.
Be of good courage and take heart. For the gospel that you believe in and cling to, while hated by many, is still the power of God for salvation. The Lord does not need the unbelieving world to think Christianity is hip or cool. He only seeks those who will, in faith, proclaim the message that sinners can be saved by His grace. When that message is preached, sure, opposition will occur, but so will salvation. For the power is still there, the Lord still reigns, and His work is still being accomplished.
Live boldly and without shame in the gospel. It is indeed still the power for salvation.
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