I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Romans 1:14-17
What activity to you find most enjoyable or rewarding in your life? For Paul, it was the opportunity to share his faith. In this passage he writes that he is eager to preach the Gospel! When was the last time you were eager to do something?
Even when he wanted to do anything but preach, the prophet Jeremiah said, “If I say, I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name, there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).
I imagine Paul felt this “fire shut up in his bones” and if he did not share the gospel, he would burst. But it is not always so easy for many of us.
Have you ever been embarrassed or ashamed of the gospel? For me, there was a particular day during college in an anthropology class when I failed to stand for what I believed by simply saying nothing. In that hour, I was ashamed of the Gospel. I didn’t want to make a scene or put myself in a place of ridicule by the professor and my peers. I wanted to avoid any kind of pain. It was a time I regret to this day. Immediately after I failed, I was ashamed of myself and I was reminded of the words of Jesus-
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”Mark 8:38
Contrast this with Paul’s statement in verse 16 –
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
I believe the difference is Paul’s lack of a fear of man. He was completely convinced of his faith and the saving grace made available to all. And his conviction and appreciation for God’s plan made him able to stand firm through the Holy Spirit as he encountered world views very different from his own as he met Jews and Greeks and Barbarians and wise and foolish people.
We live in a similar world today where “spiritual” people will consider nearly any point of view that is considered to be inclusive and universal. The doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ is considered to be narrow-minded and anything but inclusive, yet it remains God’s plan to redeem those who will believe.
While I regret the day in 1980, I have been determined to avoid that feeling since by moving forward and speaking up concerning the Gospel. No matter where we are in this journey, let us commit today to ask God to strengthen us through His Holy Spirit to stand unashamed before the people in our lives proclaiming his Truth with our daily actions and our words.