For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
Have you ever been embarrassed to be with someone? The way they were dressed or the way they acted or the things they said made you feel uncomfortable. You may have even tried to pretend you were not really with them. The claims early Christians made, the way they chose to live, and the people they hung out with made plenty of people uncomfortable. Those early Christians pooled their resources and divested themselves of their hard-earned property. They were a motley bunch of poor, troubled, and morally questionable people. Their central faith practice was gathering together to share a meal that they referred to as their leader’s “body and blood.” It was a seemingly crazy way to live, but Paul and others found deep and fulfilling life in and through it all, and Paul was not ashamed to share his experiences with others . . . even if it got him in trouble from time to time.
We live in an age when many folks—even ourselves at times—are a bit ashamed of our faith or the church, and of Jesus himself. Clergy sex abuse, philandering televangelists, messages of bigotry wrapped in scripture, and the fact that average Christians just don’t seem to practice what they preach can make anyone feel a bit awkward about being even loosely associated with Christianity. Hypocrisy, bigotry, homophobia, anti-intellectualism are just a sampling of the charges levied against those who claim to follow Jesus. For those who have dared to orient their life toward Jesus, however, there is this undeniable sense that it is the most daring, true, and rewarding way to live. If only we were not ashamed to admit it!
Are you a bit ashamed to be a Christian?
Lord, I am a quiet Christian most of the time. I try to convince myself that Christian actions speak louder than words . . . but without words, how are new Christians to be made and sustained? The truth is that I am embarrassed. The idea of announcing that I am a Christian makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t want people to think less of me . . . and I believe my association with You might do just that. And yet, Your words and my relationship with You are life-giving! Why should I not be willing to shout that truth from rooftops and street corners like Paul? I know I should be less ashamed of my faith . . . I’m just not sure how to break that cycle. Help me, I pray . . . in your name. AMEN.