Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ashamed of the Gospel

I just came back the other day from Colorado Springs for my fourth EDGE summit. It was by far my favorite one for reasons I may or may not elaborate on further in the future.

One of the things that I brought back from summit was actually something I brought to the summit. We had to do a Bible study before we arrived, and it was on our calling to ministry. The first questions asked about verses that God used to call us. I’ve written about how God really put Isaiah 6:1-8 on my heart before on here, and this was of course one of the verses I’ve used. So, I went back read it. I decided to look at the whole chapter instead of just the first 8 verses (which is only an additional 5 verses). I was struck by the difference between myself and the person whose calling I kinda jackmoved.

After God asks who will go out for Him and Isaiah volunteers, God tells Isaiah the message he’s going to be giving. Verses 9 and 10 make it seem really hopeless. Blinding eyes, deafening ears, and dulling hearts is not a really good message. But Isaiah doesn’t say, “Gee, God, um, that’s not a really good message to be giving people. Maybe You wanna give them a more hopeful message.” No, that’s not what he said. His response? “How long, O Lord?”

Really Isaiah? “How long?” You hear what you have to tell people, and you ask God how long you should do it? No hesitation? I have a more hopeful message than that, and I’m hesitant to share it. I tell people that they can meet their maker, but not in a bad way. I tell people that God came down to earth to build a bridge between God and man. I tell people that they can live eternally with God, who cares for and loves them deeply. I tell people that there’s hope, love, grace, and peace. And yet, I don’t want to go up and tell people about that. That’s uncomfortable. That’s unnatural. That’s not what I wanna do. My natural response isn’t “how long?” It’s more, “Do I have to?”

This was on my mind a lot at the summit and still is. It got me asking a lot of “why” questions. Why am I ashamed of the gospel? I look at Romans 1:16, and it doesn’t make sense. Why should anyone be ashamed of the gospel? What’s there to be ashamed of? What aspect of the gospel is shame-worthy? People are ashamed of their pasts, of the things they’ve done, of the things they regret. I don’t understand why we are ashamed of the gospel.

Yet we are, and I include myself in that. I don’t quite get it. There are other things that I share with others so willingly, but the gospel? Uh, maybe later. That thing that gives life, that sets the captives free, that brings man to the relationship with God that he should have had from the beginning--yeah, that I’ll keep to myself.

Every summit, I buy a book that I fully intend to read but never do, and this summit was not an exception. While in the very popular Glen Eyrie bookstore, a John MacArthur book caught my eye. It’s called Ashamed of the Gospel. I bought it because I think it describes a current trend in the Church and in my life. I don’t want that to be true, but it is. I pray that this will stop being true. I want to love Jesus more than I love being comfortable. I want to be able to speak the words in Romans 1:16 with the confidence that I see in Paul. I don’t want Jesus to be ashamed of me because I was ashamed of Him.

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. -Romans 1:16