Thursday, May 2, 2013

Are You Ashamed?

Recently I have been reading through the Book of Romans. It's not that I haven't read through it before. Actually, the last time I read through Romans was less than a year ago. But reading through the book again for the second time is very different. Instead of reading Romans with no purpose behind it, I have been breaking this book up into small (and I mean very small) portions and dissecting every part of every verse. My approach to studying the Scriptures is called Inductive Bible Studying, which I will make a post about in the near future.

Earlier this week I got through analyzing and rereading Romans 1:8-17. Of course, many recognize or can even quote the "central" verse of this passage, Romans 1:16. "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile" (Bible Gateway). However, the verses before and verse 17 that follows this monumental verse casts a whole new light on a verse that has sparked movements in music and in the study of the Bible itself.

Paul, the author of the Book of Romans, is writing this letter to the Roman church, a church of people he had never met in person before. Through hearing of their faith in God and their desire to share the Gospel in Roman, in his heart Paul longed to see this group of Christians. By this they could share the Gospel effectively and accurately in Roman, and encourage each other in the process (Romans 1:11 &12). Later in verses fourteen and fifteen, Paul says why he wants to share the Gospel along side with them: "...that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles" because he is both indebted to share the Gospel to not only the Jews, but to the Greeks and barbarians also (Bible Gateway).

If those two verses didn't make sense to the Romans, Paul follows it up with Romans 1:16. To explain the verse (without being long-winded), I'm picking out key words that are central to this verse. For instance, "power" can be defined as the rate at which energy is transferred or transformed. Power can also mean to have the ability to produce an effect or to influence the behavior of people with one's authority without involving force or threats. "Salvation", as defined by Dictionary.com, is the act of being saved or protected from harm, but an act that requires a personal response from the individual being saved. in essence, God's ability to act and produce an effect in those who personally respond and receive the gift of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection transforms the life of the person that believes in Him. Out of God's kindness, grace and self-effort towards sinful mankind, he willingly protects us from the harms of sin and spiritual death.

I thought that would be the end of me analyzing Romans 1:8-16, but God had be come back to verse sixteen to look at it again. The word "ashamed" means to feel inferior, inadequate, embarrassed, or feel as if you haven't reached a standard that people expect. The word could also mean to be restrained because of fear of being ridiculed. Talk about knocking the socks off my feet! Reading the verse in light of this definition puts a whole different spin on what being ashamed or unashamed means. You can be ashamed of God and the Gospel but still can go out into your community and share the Gospel. You can be ashamed of the Gospel but still wear those Christian t-shirts saying "I'm Not of this World" (y'all know what I'm talking about). Being ashamed or unashamed isn't a matter of what you do in public or what you wear, but it's all about how God is inwardly moving in your heart, compelling you to engage in this culture and show the world the love of Jesus Christ through the message of the Gospel. It all starts with the heart.

My questions for you now is this:
What or how have you been ashamed of the Gospel of Christ?
How is God convicting you to engage in this culture to spread the Gospel?


All Bible passages quoted from Biblegateway.com