“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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”—Romans 1:16,17
Why would anyone be ashamed of the Gospel? Why does Paul pray that he might not be ashamed of this message of hope and salvation? The answer is that the Gospel is offensive to the unconverted person. The very notion that the death of a man on a cross two thousand years ago is the only basis for our entry into heaven—this idea is so contrary to our natural instincts that, at first blush, we’re all tempted to reject it as absurd.
First of all, it’s difficult for the natural man to even accept the idea that God is angry with sinners, and therefore, needs a sacrifice in order to be appeased. Our culture tells us that God is relatively happy with us, and if He isn’t, He should get over His narrow judgmentalism.
Second, the fact that Jesus was God and yet allowed Himself to be shamefully crucified is a stretch to accept. If He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, why wouldn’t He vanquish His enemies by the breath of His mouth? The Greeks thought—and many today agree—that any God who is humiliated must, by definition, be very weak and therefore, unworthy of worship.
And finally, the very idea that we cannot save ourselves by our good deeds and our attempts at “doing the best we can” is a blow to our pride. We think that as long as we are able to live with our conscience, God should be able to live with us and be happy with our attempts to be good. Like one man said, “If God doesn’t accept me, He should lighten up!”
This explains why we must pray that we will not be ashamed of the Gospel. It is indeed the power of God unto salvation, but we are tempted to “hide it under a bushel”—to be silent about our faith and to be embarrassed about what we believe. Imagine, Jesus is not ashamed of us, and yet, often His followers are ashamed of Him!
We need to be freed from our fear of witnessing, freed from the hesitation we might have of sharing the one message that bring a sinner to God. It’s indeed a sad commentary on human nature that the message which the world regards as foolish is actually the only message that can redeem it!
Let Us Pray
Father, forgive us for being ashamed of the Gospel; forgive us for those times when we have not shared the very truth that has saved us. We repent of all fear of witnessing to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray for _____ that they might be so committed to Jesus that they might never be ashamed of Him. Help them to gladly identify with Him, both in His sufferings and in His victories. May we never be intimidated by our peers. Please deliver us from those habitual sins that condemn our conscience and make us feel so unworthy of telling others of Jesus’ grace and power. May we be such lovers of the Gospel that we are eager to share it both in word and deed.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.