Today’s Bible reading from 29plans came from Romans 1. Paul is writing while in Corinth roughly the same year he is later imprisoned in Caesarea and 2-3 years before he is placed under house arrest in Rome. Despite the threats and violence he has faced up to this point, he still writes that he is eager to preach the gospel in Rome. The key verse comes in verse 16:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes;
This defines the gospel. It’s good news, and not just informational; it’s transformational. It’s the power of God that saves us from the consequences of our sin. It’s amazing how God’s grace is promised to us simply by faith.
Over the years I’ve been blessed to have shared the gospel with crowds and individuals in places like churches, coffee shops, and sidewalks. Yet there are still moments I don’t feel the same boldness that Paul is describing. Why do I occasionally bottle a faith so powerful?
Part of it is personality. Paul wasn’t wired like me, and I’m not wired like Paul. And part of it comes down to the one thing that keeps us from reaching our potential: worrying about what people think. Which at first seems funny because I live so much of my life not caring what people think. I’m the guy burning branches in a fire bowl in my driveway waving to staring neighbors. I don’t want to pay to dispose of them and I don’t care if people think it’s weird.
Upon further reflection, I don’t think that any apprehension springs from fear of rejection or ridicule. I think it comes from a fear of their (sometimes accurate) assumptions about Christians. I’m not ashamed of Christ—far from it. I’m sometimes ashamed of Christians.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to really put ourselves out there as Christ followers because of the baggage related with being a Christian—summed up with the agendas of condemnation, behavioral modification, and church participation.
Yet today I was encouraged again by Paul’s words and reminded of two things. First of all, the Christian stereotypes out there don’t come even close to representing who I am or how I live out my faith. I can’t let the fear that comes with the label get the best of me. Secondly, the heart of the gospel is powerful! There’s no greater story of sacrifice for our salvation, and it transcends those stereotypes and fear. I’m not afraid to share the gospel. I’m not ashamed of it, and I’m not ashamed of Christ.