I am Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Part Eight

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

B. What motivates this shame?

Perhaps a key to answer that question is asking another one, namely, what motivates shame in the first place. MacArthur just named it for us in that quote I gave in the previous post. And frankly, the answer to that comes easy to you, I’m sure. The heartbeat of shame is fear, plain and simple. It is a fear of getting hurt, of suffering, of pain, of torment and torture, of loss of reputation, and especially of death. The fear of being rejected whether in some small or great way, motivates us to be ashamed of Jesus Christ and His gospel.

It is completely natural for a human being to be ashamed of identifying himself with a message that preaches the divinity of a Jewish carpenter, who was raised by a poor woman and who died as a criminal, and which results in magnanimous trouble and suffering. MacArthur went on to write:

“It is said that if a circle of white chalk is traced on the floor around a goose that it will not leave the circle for fear of crossing the white mark. In a similar way, the chalk marks of criticism, ridicule, tradition, and rejection prevent many believers from leaving the security of Christian fellowship to witness to the unsaved” (ibid).

But not being ashamed of the gospel is a supernatural attitude, not a natural one. Living unashamed of the gospel is something that comes from above, from heaven, not from the world.

The bane of Christianity is a lack of bold gospel preaching. And yet the Christianity that we enjoy so much is built on this gospel. The reason it is the bane of Christianity is because Christians are too scared to tell people about Jesus. WHY! Why are we scared to tell people that they are the ones who should be scared? Why are we fearful of telling others that they should be fearful of God? Why have the roles reversed?

Some claim they do not know how to share their faith. I am a bit lenient on this excuse because we can and should in fact get better at sharing the gospel with others. But I would still respond that if you are passionately in love with Jesus Christ, then you will not be able to help sharing Him with others, even if you stumble all over yourself in the process or get mixed up doing so.

Some argue that they do not or will not have the answers to questions that come up while sharing the gospel. Questions like where did UFO’s come from, or where did Cain get his wives, or what about the pygmies in Africa almost always come up. But your aim is simple, and this simple aim should give you courage in spite of these questions. Your aim is the gospel…not aliens, not Cain’s wives, and not the pygmies in Africa. Your aim is the gospel to that person you are talking to. So I tell them that those are interesting questions, and we can talk about those much later. But the question God is most interested in you being able to answer is what you’re going to do about your sin.

Others are honest and say they are fearful of what might happen. For them, I simply exhort them to do what is required of them by Christ and leave the consequences in God’s hand. Again, they are fearful for their lives or any part of their life that another person’s rejection of the gospel might harm. Who cares? Jesus is your satisfaction, your joy and happiness. He is your life. Dying is gain.

Theologian Tom Schreiner has written,

“The asservation that Paul is not ashamed in Romans 1;16, therefore, refers both to his willingness to confess the gospel in public and the overcoming of fear” (Romans, p. 60).

In the next post I'll ask, "How Do We Defeat This Shame?"

Read Part Nine.

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