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Not ashamedPosted Friday, January 13, 2012, at 8:35 AM
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power for salvation for all who believe." ... Romans 1:16
All of us have numerous experiences in life where we may have felt ashamed. It is the part of our human experience; the very nature of all human beings; the very nature of human personality to feel shame.
It starts very early in life and ends late in life. As a little child, parents teach you to be ashamed of certain words and actions. And at the end of life, when you are growing old and getting ready to die, you feel ashamed that you cannot do the things you once did.
There is a proneness to shame in all of us.
We are often ashamed of our bodies. We're too fat or too skinny, too tall or too short, too old or too young, too wrinkled or too arthritic, too dark or too light, or maybe too bumpy in certain places and not bumpy enough in others. So we learn to be ashamed of our bodies.
Sometimes -- we are also ashamed of our behavior. I am sure we have all experienced that at one time or another. Or at least that we should, from time to time.
We may also be embarrassed by our private lives; by the things that we have done. Sometimes I remember very vividly things that I did when I was in high school ... things my family did not know about; things my children do not know about; things that you don't know about it; and things I am not going to tell you about. (Because my grandpa might be listening). That is just the way it is. We all have those private stories in life that we would prefer that no one knows about.
Why? Because we are ashamed of them.
I've known people who are ashamed of our families. Every child who has ever lived goes through a period of time in their lives when they are ashamed of their parents. Many pre-teens and teenagers would not want to be caught walking in the park with a parent or to be seen getting a cheek smooch from mom or dad.
Shame is part of the human condition and the very nature of human personality, from the time you were very young in life to when you die.
In New Testament times, we find that there were a great number of people who did not want to admit that they were followers of Jesus Christ. Today, we would call them "closet Christians." These "closet Christians" were ashamed to let anyone know that they were Christians.
These folks didn't want other people to know that they were followers of Christ because it could cost them their family, their job, or maybe life itself.
The Apostle Paul, knowing that there were many "closet Christians" who were ashamed of being disciples, said very clearly, "I am not ashamed. I want you to know, world, that I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for salvation."
How do these words apply to us, living here in the twenty-first century? Living here in America where two-thirds of the population belongs to church? Living here in the Bible Belt? How do these words about shame apply to us?
We need to clearly hear the gospel and the gospel isthis: God is not ashamed of you and me. God is not ashamed of us in the midst of our sinfulness. How do I know that? Because I know the gospel and that is the gospel. That though God hates sin -- God loves sinful people.
I know that the Gospel Paul speaks of in Romans says that God loves selfish people. That God loves failing people. That God loves rebelling people. That God loves runaway people. That God loves people who are ashamed of all the ugly things that they have ever done.
People need to know that God desires a relationship with them, even when they are not living for Him. He's waiting. He's not ashamed.
It's called grace.
This is a sinful and adulterous generation in which we live and move. But we must go out and live and move in the midst of that sinful and adulterous generation, and to be not ashamed.
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Bob Stewart is pastor of Union Baptist Church. His long-running column ranges in topic from matters of faith to observations about life in Saline County, politics and the sights to see in travels throughout America.