For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation… (Romans 1:16)
Not many things are more traumatic than feeling ashamed. Ashamed for something we did or didn’t do. Ashamed of being exposed or failing. Ashamed of our past or our present. Ashamed of our bodies or our relationships. Ashamed about our relationship with God—we don’t trust enough, pray enough, do enough, love enough.
If God were ashamed of us, He wouldn’t have asked Jesus to come to us. If Jesus were ashamed of us, He wouldn’t have allowed himself to be condemned, abandoned, and crucified.
Was Jesus ashamed on the cross? Hardly. Bereft? Yes. Lonely? Yes. But not ashamed. Jesus wasn’t ashamed because dying was part of His mission. His faithfulness was bigger, deeper, and stronger than any possible shame.
In today’s lesson, Paul says that he’s not ashamed of the gospel. He’s not ashamed of the gospel because the gospel has obliterated all of his shame. The gospel for Paul, and for us, is that Jesus has taken our sins to the cross and that His sacrifice has washed them away. Through his death, we can now be reconciled to God. The gospel is to accept and trust the grace of what Jesus has already done for us.
Because Jesus gave His blood to wipe away our shame and guilt, Jesus doesn’t want his disciples to live ashamed. Shame shuts us down. Shame undermines our faith. Shame indicates that our fear is greater than our courage and that our guilt is greater than our trust in Jesus to forgive.
An ashamed life is no way to live. An ashamed faith will not change the world. Jesus didn’t die for us to cower in shame. Jesus died so that we would be bold in His love and confident in His grace.
If we have some shame issues, I encourage us to take them to Jesus and the power of His cross. Jesus knows how to take our shame so that we can, like Paul, be unashamed of the gospel and of our lives.
- Although I’m not ashamed of the gospel, I am sometimes ashamed that my faith doesn’t always make more difference in my life. Do you ever feel ashamed that your faith doesn’t make more difference in yours?
- Most of us carry around deep reservoirs of shame. If that’s true for you, what do you think Jesus would like you to do with the shame you are carrying around?
- What would it take for you to believe, embrace, and rest upon the grace of Jesus to forgive, cover, and dismiss all of your shame and all that you are ashamed about?