Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I am Not Ashamed

    I struggle with my own critical mindedness. In many ways, it's a blessing. I can find fallacies rather quickly, I have learned to think things through quickly and critically, and I've learned to appreciate the truth greatly. I am truly grateful to God that He gave me that part of my personality. However, it comes with certain negative side effects too. My critical mindedness puts me at odds with the vast majority of people I know because as is common when two people think through an issue: I may arrive at a separate conclusion. When the person I arrive at a separate conclusion from is an authority figure or adult in my life, friction develops, and I wind up causing myself a lot of stress because I do question nearly everything (I'm working on eliminating the "nearly" from that sentence).

     The largest issue I see around me that throws me into fits (figuratively speaking, at least I hope...) is that of works vs grace in regard to our status with God. Over and over again, after a hard day or a particular trying incident, I want to pull back and shut up. Other times, I've prayed and in frustration, questioned God as to why He gave me the tendencies He has that put me in opposition against other people I know. The personality I have makes life in many ways harder than it could be if I were not so dead set on questioning constantly.

     But a verse I read tonight from Romans 1 really hit me. "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." No eloquent thoughts, I'm afraid, but Paul is pretty straight up.

     The gospel he preached was extremely unpopular in his day, particular among the people he had been well-respected by, the Pharisees and his own family. Knowing that his own father was a Pharisees and his mentor was Gamaliel, when Paul stubbornly held fast to the gospel, he did so in direct contradiction to his own family, his upbringing, his nation, his former friends, and his mentor. Following the gospel, holding true, and determining to publicize the truth of who Jesus was at all costs did indeed cost him everything.

      But he tells us why here. The gospel is worth fighting for! The truth of who God is and what He says is a fight worth having... and it's a fight we shouldn't be ashamed of. Even when it's hard or it means taking a different stance than an authority figure or a friend you've known a long time, the gospel is truth worth standing for.

     I wonder... I don't do this as the application after a sermon time. I truly wonder... am I unashamed of the gospel of Christ? Am I unashamed to stand up and proclaim to the world that I am, in fact, a follower of Christ? Am I unashamed to stand up and identify before other Christians with the truth of what the gospel is and who Christ is, maybe when that means popular dismissal?

     There are days I seriously do wish I had a different personality, one that didn't so furiously pursue questions or demand answers. But at the end of the day, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, not before the world or my Christian peers. The truth is worth standing up for, unashamedly.

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