No More Shame

In my sermon, I referenced the idea that often when we read these words in Romans 1:16-17, we often feel guilty, because we don’t share the gospel enough. And so, paradoxically, by making us feel guilty and ashamed, we use these verses to motivate us to share the gospel. While evangelism is the most obvious application, I think we all have seen the gospel used to shame people to behave in a variety of ways. And while I believe in evangelism, and I believe in obedience, I am not confident that this it the best way to think about these words, “I am not ashamed.” A bit more frankly, I have a hard time thinking that the reason Paul gave up his life in the service of the gospel, is primarily because he was afraid of the embarrassment that would come if he didn’t. Embarrassment might be something that motivates us to put on deodorant, but probably not something that can make us holy and blameless, innocent and stainless.

Rather, I take this idea, “not ashamed”, to mean a “whole hearted confidence” in the person of Christ, a sure belief that he will follow through on his promises. It is a confident trust that when Jesus said about us, “this one is mine” – he meant it. I’m fairly confident this is what Paul means elsewhere (2 Tim 1:8-12), and I think it probably has relevance here. What is on offer in the gospel is not guilt, but grace. Not condemnation, but justification. In the gospel, God offers us honor, not shame. Because of the gospel, we don’t have to hide in the shadows with our sin any more. In the gospel, God gives us all of himself. What greater gift, honor, and privilege could he bestow on us than that? And to not be ashamed means to trust that that is actually true. It is to believe that when God says, “I am for you, not against you”-he is not pulling one over on us.

Do you see the difference? On the one hand, we might say “I am not ashamed” out of fear. On the other, we can say, “I am not ashamed” out of joy and confidence. One, paradoxically, leads to shame. The other, thankfully, takes away shame. Mercifully, I believe the gospel is the second. It is a gospel of “no more shame.”

And that, dear friends, is a gospel worth meditating and pondering, celebrating and spreading.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Matt


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