Not Ashamed

We human beings like control! I recently curiously googled “control freak” and in less than one second over 100 million results popped up. We like to be in control and at times we like to control others. Interestingly, if we’re brutally honest, there is actually much about our lives and the world over which we have little control, and yet, the quest for control continues, doesn’t it.

In the first-century Mediterranean world, control was a big part of society. Behavior was dominated by a shame/honor system – a system that sought to control people.

Notes Rafael Zaracho in an online article entitled ‘Communicating the Gospel in a Shame Society’:

“All first-century Mediterranean cultures were shame cultures. Gentiles and Jews alike were oriented from childhood to seek honor and to avoid shame at all costs. Although the types of behaviors that were deemed honorable or shameful varied and changed over time, all ancient Mediterranean people were raised to be sensitive to public recognition or reproach. Indeed, instilling in the young a lifelong desire for honor and a horror of dishonor was thought essential to maintaining social control.”

In light of the cultural context of the day, the Apostle Paul wrote this to the church in Rome:

“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:14-16).

Paul, in coining himself a “debtor” in verse 14, was referring to his obligation to God to fulfill his mandate to bring the gospel to the gentiles (non-Jewish people). The church in Rome would have been comprised of many gentiles, to which Paul states he was ready to preach the gospel.

Then in verse 16 the Apostle writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” What is the gospel to which Paul is referring? It is the forgiveness of sin, abundant and eternal life found in the person and work of Jesus. He wrote about the work of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Paul was not ashamed of the good news of Jesus, in spite of the opposition to the gospel by those who would heap shame upon him and anyone who would proclaim this life-saving message.

In light of the 1st century honor/shame cultural context, Paul added these words from 1 Corinthians 1:18, 27: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;”

Fast forward to 2024 –> there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the shaming of the gospel messengers by those who oppose the message!

Today’s PC crowd also seeks to utilize shame as a weapon in opposition to we who bring a message of hope, forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Christ! And what is the goal of their shame tactics? To suppress us, marginalize and demonize us and ultimately to silence us. 

Make no mistake – they want us to be ashamed of the gospel, and in some circles of Christendom, the PC police are having some success with their shame campaign.

But fear not! “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). And with this spirit of power, love and a sound mind the Lord has provided, 

we recognize, as Paul did, that people’s salvation 
is more important than any shame heaped upon us.

In other words, we need to stand firm for the truth. We need to be bold and courageous, recognizing that while the proclamation of the gospel will bring shame from the lost, it will bring salvation for those who are found!

Paul recognized this reality: that shame heaped upon him wouldn’t cause him to be ashamed of the gospel. We also need to recognize this reality.

People need the Lord and we’ve been approved by God and entrusted with the good news of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

May the Lord grant us the boldness and courage to proclaim the gospel in the midst of a perverse and corrupt generation that desperately needs Jesus!

“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word” (Acts 4:29).

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