Summary: Do we act as if we are ashamed of Jesus? Are we secretly or openly ashamed of the gospel? My prayer is that every local resident will get to know the story of our faith in Jesus!
Romans 1: 8-17
When I was at school, there were roughly speaking two groups of people as far as I could see.
One group was the in-crowd. And the in-crowd contained the ’lads’. It contained the beautiful people. It contained those people who were popular, people you really wanted to spend time with. It contained the ones who might get into a fight every so often - most days in fact. It contained the ’cool’ people. But most importantly, this group contained people who you wanted to be seen with. If you were with this crowd, you had maximum ’street-cred’. You had respect. You were proud to be with such people, or you really wanted to be with such people. Perhaps you have in your minds eye one such person, or a group, from your school days.
And then there was another group. And I seem to remember that I was in this other group - but please, no sympathy - that is not the point. This other group contained people who might be rather embarrassing to be seen with. They had no fashion sense. They listened to weird music. They said really weird things. They were the kind of people your Mum might want to invite round for tea, and your face would just go purple in embarrassment. This lot had not much going for them. We were the really embarrassing ones.
Now in all seriousness, my purpose is not to trample upon those of us who were trodden on at school. And if I have just stirred up some memories, or some current realities which are really painful, then please, ask Jesus to heal those memories. Ask a Christian friend to pray with you.
My point is this: The way of Jesus is not the way of the world. But the way of the world is this:
We want to spend time with some people. We do not want to spend time with others. Some of our friends we are proud to be seen with. But there are times in our lives when there are certain people we are embarrassed to be seen with.
Into which category do we put Jesus?
When people know that we are Christians, and when we are asked about Jesus, into which category do we put him? Are we proud to be a friend of Jesus? Do we boast about Jesus? Or do we shuffle in embarrassment? Do we hope that no one else is listening?
My friends, are we ashamed of the gospel? Because the gospel of God ...the gospel of His Son ...is not a thing. The gospel is not a set of statements. The gospel is not a church institution ...The gospel is a person. The gospel ...the Good News of God ...is Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. The saviour.
My friends, who is Jesus to you? One to be seen with, or one to keep under wraps? One to speak about with joy, or one to never mention? Is Jesus a friend that you are aching to introduce to others?
Verse 16: Paul wrote, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Jesus is the ultimate friend to introduce to your friends ..to your family ...to your neighbour ...and to your work colleague.
Are we ashamed of the gospel? Are we ashamed of Jesus?
You know, if from today, by the grace of God, we are no longer ashamed of the gospel, the transformation and the salvation of our local community will multiply. Persecution may also multiply - but God’s transformation and salvation of this community will multiply.
Do you want the transformation and the salvation of this community to multiply?
As we become unashamed of the gospel, the story of our faith in Jesus will be reported.
Do we long for the faith of the church - for the story of Jesus - to be reported all over this community, and throughout the places that we work?
I long for the story of Jesus to be headline news. For the story of Jesus to replace stories of homosexual bishops, and for the story of Jesus to replace stories of a church that is against this, and against that.
I recently received a letter from a friend who is at Bible College. I think he must be fed up with some questions that he gets asked. He said, "when people ask me if I agree with homosexual bishops, I just want to reply by saying, do you know Jesus and the forgiveness of your sins?"
Brothers and sisters, my prayer is that we will be so much in love with the gospel, so in love with Jesus, that our faith, our love for Jesus, will be reported far and wide. My prayer is that the story of our faith - our love for Jesus - our love for His way of doing things, will be reported far and wide.