As believers, we are set free from shame. It is a heavy burden that we longer need to bear. What frees us from our shame is the gospel – the good news that we are not alone, that there is hope for a lost world, and that there is peace for weary souls. So why would we ever be ashamed of that?
It seems that many of us treat the gospel as something to be careful with, and we ‘downplay’ or generalize it in our conversations. Yet the earliest believers faced ridicule, social rejection, imprisonment, and even death for refusing to deny it.
In our day, Christianity is embraced by millions throughout the world who continue to suffer in this way. In the years, decades, and even centuries after the ascension of Christ, believers faced all kinds of obstacles in embracing this new faith with ancient roots. Jesus forewarned his followers that they would be hated, yet this has never stopped the redeemed from following him. Since the beginning, people from every culture, seeking hope and peace, have found it in the truth of the gospel and the saving love of Christ.
Yet this global movement began with a small, obscure group that, to the outside observer, may have seemed doomed to failure. Those early believers had no room for ‘casual Christianity.’ In their world, either you were all in, or you were out! In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul writes, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ” Philippians 3:8.
Similarly, Paul encourages the church in Rome that he stands unashamed, willing to lose everything for the gospel of Christ. The gospel was all he needed.
The Power of God
Do we also hold the gospel this dearly, or are we content to live out the average American life with some Jesus added in? If the gospel really is the power of God, there is nothing more worthy of our time, attention, and loyalty than our relationship with Christ. Freely sharing that truth with others should become paramount in how we live our lives. Discussing our faith should not be an awkward conversation-killer but a natural outflow that is simply a part of who we are.
This type of faith will lead us to live fully unashamed, no matter the cost, knowing that what we gain far outweighs all else and that we have access to the very power of God to change lives in a way we never could.
To the Jew First
When Jesus walked the earth, he did so as a Jew. God has not forgotten his chosen people, and it is through the Jews that the gospel came to the world, including us. It may be easy for us to forget that Jesus and his apostles were Jewish: they lived as Jews, knew the Jewish law and prophets, and it was in this setting that Jesus did his work and ministry. The Jews were not, and are not, forgotten. Paul writes in Romans 10:1, “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.”
For a Jew to follow Christ was to be in rebellion. Their leaders had rejected Jesus, denied his claims, and those who continued to follow him were imprisoned and put to death (Acts 7:55-60). A Jew who chose to accept the gospel and follow the Jewish Messiah did so in boldness and without shame, knowing it would lead to separation from the people and things they loved so dearly.
Then to the Gentile
The deep, abiding beauty here is not just that a Jew can be saved, but that a Gentile can be saved! For a Gentile to follow Christ meant much the same as it did for the Jew. Gentiles were turning their backs on the empty idols that the culture around them worshiped in vain and were accepting the fact that a Jew named Jesus had been crucified, rose again, and now offered them eternal life.
It must have sounded just as crazy then as it does today, but the truth of it, and the power of it, was undeniable. They left all they had to join this faith that was unlike anything seen before – a faith where all people were equal before and personally known by the one true God.
Salvation to Everyone Who Believes
Any kind of cultural, racial, or societal differences between believers lose their significance when we accept Christ as Savior – we are made fully one in and through Jesus. This is the power of the gospel – that anyone from anywhere can bring any sin before the throne of God and become forgiven and free. This is the heart of what we believe. In the midst of a broken and painful world, this is what gives us purpose, gives us hope, gives us peace, gives us joy, and gives us strength.
This is why Paul and others around him were willing to suffer indignities, imprisonments, beatings, and even death for the sake of the gospel. It isn’t just a cool idea or a nice worldview, it is our freedom and our salvation. It is light in darkness and life in a dying world.
It can be scary to ‘bring up religion’ in a conversation. We could lose friends and damage our own reputation. Of course, it is important to always be mindful of how we speak and why we speak. If we are just out preaching for the sake of preaching, we miss the point of faith.
When sharing the gospel unashamedly, having our own personal relationship with Christ means everything. As we share unashamedly with others, we must know that he is the center of our lives and that we find all of our meaning in him alone. The only shame in sharing the gospel is to tell others about something we know but don’t really believe ourselves. But there is power when we live for Christ every day, and this relationship is made evident in our conversations and how we do whatever it is that we do.
May we speak of Christ unashamedly as we seek to know and follow him daily!