February 22, 2012 Ė Guilt, Shame, and Dimmer Switches Turned Down Low
16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is Godís power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, 17 For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith, and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and live by faith. Ė Romans 1:16-17 AMP
In todayís passage, the apostle Paul is sharing his heart with the believers in the city of Rome. He wrote the Book of Romans near the end of his third missionary journey from the city of Corinth. Up until this point in his storied and well documented travels to spread the message of Christ, this persecutor turned apostle had been rejected in several cities he had visited. He had been stoned (Acts 14). He had been beaten with rods and thrown into prison (Acts 16). He was saved from the wrath of an angry mob in Ephesus (Acts 19). There was even a plot to murder him immediately after his conversion (Acts 9). Yet amidst such trials and rejection, he was still not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Christians today should take notes from Paul.
I know what many of you are probably thinking right now. Thatís easy for you to say, youíre talking about Paul. Buddy, the last time I checked I had never been stricken with temporary blindness and told to share the Gospel with the world. Iím a Christian; I go to church, pay my tithes, and God isnít telling me to do anything else. That may very well be the case. God may not have called you to share your faith with the world. But change gears with me a moment. Are you being a light in the dark world we all live in, or have you turned down your dimmer switch so low that the only light people see coming from you barely resembles the flicker of a small candle?
Jesus says that we are to let our light shine so that God will be glorified (Matthew 5:16). Paul says that we are children of the Light (Ephesians 5:8). If this is the case, why is there such a problem with Christians sharing their faith? There are literally millions of reasons, but they all can be summed up in one sentence. Christians are ashamed.
Nelsonís Three-In-One Bible Reference Companion defines ashamed as a feeling of shame, guilt, or disgrace. Christians are often ashamed of many things. They are ashamed of their past sins. They are embarrassed to share their faith with others. There is nagging guilt in some that they fail to practice what they preach. There is a sense of disgrace because they perceive that their fellow believers can see through the faÁade of their Christianity into the rottenness of their heart. Any of these behaviors are hardly an effective witness for any believer.
38 For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous (unfaithful) and [preeminently] sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory (splendor and majesty) of His Father with the holy angels. Ė Mark 8:38 AMP
Want Jesus to not be ashamed of you? You better not be ashamed of Him. Now the Bible is not explicit about any impending punishment when Jesus is ashamed of anyone. But letís put two and two together. Most of the time when people are ashamed of something they hide their face. They may even turn their back and avoid whatever situation that caused them to feel that way. I donít know about you, but I never want Jesus to turn his back on me.
Twice during the past month I have been on the phone conducting business for our farm when I had the opportunity to share some of my faith. During the conversation I was able to interject that I was also a Christian writer and that from that writing had sprung a ministry that is reaching believers and unbelievers worldwide. Why did I mention my faith and the ministry? I did it because I am not ashamed of who God has called me to be. I can tell you that from those phone conversations I received a small glimpse into Paulís life as both times the parties on the other end of the call quickly ended the phone conversations. I didnít feel rejected in either incident; it only strengthened my faith.
The truth is that there will be times for almost every believer when they feel shame or guilt of some kind in their walk with God. We may feel shame for our past sins and especially shameful for the pain we have caused our loved ones. But where there is forgiveness, shame should not exist. Itís human nature to look back on our past with regret, but we cannot allow it to affect our future.
We can even blame society for our shame. In this day and age, Christians are many times viewed as right wing radical morons. That portrayal can sometimes cause us to not share our faith in seemingly unfriendly surroundings for fear of embarrassment. That line of thinking needs to cease. Your shame is yours and yours alone. Get rid of it. It is time for all of us to rise above our past and societyís attempts to suppress us. We need not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Turn up your dimmer switch and let your light shine brighter than ever.