ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL?
When I was in high school, there was a new kid, whom I liked, but my friends didn’t. I don’t remember why they didn’t like him. Perhaps they, like many kids, didn’t need a reason to not like the new kid.
They committed all sorts of mean practical jokes against him, and I caught in the middle, participated with them. We superglued the dial on his combination padlock that he had on his locker, we used a magnet to erase his computer disks, and things like that.
One day, he caught me in the Industrial Arts classroom and said, “I thought you were my friend.” Never were more convicting words spoken. I was and still am ashamed of the things I helped do against him.
What does it mean to be ashamed of something? It is to be guilty or embarrassed because of something you did. We can be ashamed of actions, of words, attitudes, or even who we are.
In Romans 1:16-17, Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of his association with the Gospel—of his relationship with Jesus Christ.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16–17)
What does it mean to be ashamed of the Gospel? Being ashamed of the Gospel means being ashamed of Christ. It’s watering down your faith out of fear of offending someone. It’s not speaking about Jesus when you should.
By the way, the Gospel is not the same as a certain kind of politics. Some Christians are very loud about talking about politics, but they suddenly get quiet when speaking about the actual Gospel.
Perhaps the most infamous example of being ashamed of Christ is Peter’s denial of Christ:
69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. (Matthew 26:69–74)
We’re hard on Peter, but would we have done any better?
It’s easy for us to be ashamed of the Gospel. We’re driven to be ashamed of the Gospel by a culture that wants us to be quiet. We are told that we’re arrogant if we teach Christ is the only way to Heaven. We’re told that we’re anti-intellectual if we believe in a supernatural deity that came and died for our supposed sins.
Jesus and His Gospel has always been a problem for people. Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthian church, said:
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
People don’t like to be told that there is one way to be saved. They don’t like to hear the preaching of the Cross. And they go out of their way sometimes to make a believer feel ashamed.
In Romans 1:16-17, Paul gives two reasons not to be ashamed of the Gospel. In verse 16, he says it is because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. In verse 17, he says that he is not ashamed because the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God by faith.