BOLD IN THE FAITH
SCRIPTURE: Read Romans 1:8-17 as Paul speaks of his desire to visit the church in Rome, and declares that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because it has the power to save all who believe in Jesus.
TEXT: Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it has the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
More so today than in the entire history of our great country, Christians are finding themselves no longer counted as the majority. Today we are surrounded by people of all different faiths and confessions and many with no faith and no confession at all. It is as if we have gone back in time, back to the days of St. Paul when the gospel was new, and Christ’s followers were only a handful of recent converts. They were surrounded by people who knew nothing of Jesus, many of whom might even be hostile to the Christian faith. No wonder Paul encouraged his churches not to be ashamed of the Gospel. It seems as if that might once again be the case in our own country. Certainly not to that extent, but many Christians might be concerned about how others regard their faith knowing we are no longer the majority. But whether we are still a strong voice as in America, or whether we live in a place like Japan where Christians are very much the minority, we have a number of ways we can express our faith with confidence.
I think some of us today think that this passage and others like it, speak to our shyness when it comes to witnessing to Christ. We get images of the Jehovah’s Witnesses going door to door, and many of us find that too aggressive, intrusive, even pushy. But being bold and unashamed of the Gospel doesn’t have to mean going door to door, or pouncing on our irreligious friends or family. We bear witness to the faith by going to church on Sunday. Believe me, our neighbors know. We bear witness in our kindness to others, and in the simple words, “I’ll pray for you,” when they are sick or struggling. We bear witness to the Gospel when in our conversations and our actions, we represent Christ if only in terms of patience, peace, love, and understanding.
Of course, some have the gift of mission and of evangelism, and that is wonderful and to be commended. But not everybody shares that gift. When Paul spoke of his being unashamed of the Gospel, he was saying that he was convinced it was the power of God to save the world and he was determined to live his life in that truth. We can all do that with confidence and in the knowledge that for 2000 years our faith has stood as the cornerstone of Western civilization and culture. Only those with no knowledge of history could deny that fact and act as if the gospel is something to be ashamed of.
My dad was a real character. He would come up with the most amazing things. One Sunday he was teaching his Sunday School class of 8thgraders and all of a sudden one began to chuckle and point, and then another, and then another. Finally, my dad said, “All right, what’s so funny?” And one student pointed to the floor and said, “Your shoes.”
My dad looked down and realized he had two different shoes on, similar but definitely two different shoes. Well, he could have been ashamed or embarrassed. He could have turned red and frozen up. Instead, he laughed and said, “That’s no big deal. I have another pair just like it at home.” The kids all laughed.
Recently in a study of the book of Nehemiah, I asked the class what exemplified the prayers of Nehemiah. One student answered “boldness.” Indeed, we can be bold in the claims of our faith and rest unashamed of what it is that we believe. God admires our boldness as a sign of our confidence in God’s love and care for us. For there is no possibility of humiliation in Christ. He is the Lord of all the universe, and he calls us friends. Nothing on earth nor in the domains of the darkest principalities can separate us from his love.
Pastor Linden DeBie