"I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." - Romans 1:16
God has recently been using this verse to prod me a little in my walk with him. I am embarrassed to admit that this is a verse that has drifted in and out of my Christian journey, depending on my ability and desire to understand and accept the implications of it. It is time, once again, for me to own the implications in this powerful thrust of truth.
I become a follower of the King just before my 15th birthday, and for the first two or three years, I was full of raw passion. (I still consider myself to still have great love for Jesus, although it has transitioned in much the same way that the excitement of a first date transitions to a beautiful marriage). In my passion, to ensure that all knew about Jesus, I purchased a T-shirt with the above verse emblazoned on the front. It was a white T-shirt, with big, bold and black type (think – “Frankie Goes to Hollywood”). I was very comfortable wearing it at church and around Christian friends, but I knew that the real challenge lay in my ability to boldly wear the shirt, and proclaim the verse, in the secular school I attended. This was not an easy thing to do… But I did it. Unfortunately, the only times that I would wear this was by using this shirt as an undershirt, hidden under a dress shirt.
I realized immediately that the hypocritical irony was thick. Here I was hiding an “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ” Tee shirt under other clothing.
As I remember this story, I realize that there are so often similarities between how I live now and the shameless way that I abused the message and purpose of this Tee shirt. My definition of being “ashamed” of the gospel is when any behavior, action, or thought ‘covers up’ the glory and fame of Jesus within this world, through our lives. I have to confess that as I seek to be entertained, as I embrace philosophy’s of “self-help,” as I shy away from difficult conversations and situations of pain, that I am metaphorically doing the same thing I did when I was a new Christian in High School. I am covering up my passion, trust, and belief that Jesus is the only one through which men can be saved.
As I meditate on this further, it is as if each of the actions that I have listed above is similar to me buttoning up the ‘cover up’ shirt further:
- Button # 1... Covers up the gospel. The good news, that the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived and can begin to be lived right now. As my actions ‘cover’ the gospel, so people miss out on life that is truly life.
- Button #2... Covers up the power of God. Wow! There is so much that God wants to do, but every time I do something that demonstrates that I am ashamed of him, his power is limited. Never has the world needed such an outpouring and a demonstration of God’s power than now… I need to be a conduit to this, not a cover from it.
- Button #3... Covers up the offer of salvation for others. The life and love of Jesus is made visible and tangible through his Holy Spirit working through other followers of the Way - like and me. If we choose to ‘cover’ the invitation of God, then people will miss out on life that is both abundant and eternal. How selfish, and sinful, is it that our issues may get in the way of another entering heaven.
Friends…. Do not be ashamed. It is only Jesus that has good news for human kind, and it is only the power of God that can offer the world the salvation that it groans for.
Boldly wear the Tee Shirt.