Summary: Paul lays out the entire book of Romans in just two verses and gives his reason for excitement about the gospel, an attitude that can infect us as well.
How ‘bout them Blazers! They beat Golden State 113-100 before a sellout crowd of over twenty thousand in the Rose Garden. The Portland Trailblazers are now 22-14 for the season, inching up on first place Denver in their division. Portland is a basketball town once again. The team is winning and it’s hard these days to get a ticket. But a lot of us remember not too long ago a derogatory nickname for this team: The Jailblazers.
When they won the NBA championship and on into the early 1990s the team could do no wrong. Everyone was so proud of them. They made the playoffs almost every year from 1976 to 2003. We’d come to depend on them. Then a series of events took place in the management and makeup of the team. Members started getting arrested for drugs and there were accusations of sexual misconduct and violence. That team we depended on had disappointed us. Attendance dried up and we hung our heads and no longer spoke openly about our team. We were ashamed of them.
Things are different now but I want to bring to mind that era of shame because for some reason, that same feeling of embarrassment, sadness, and disappointment is not confined to the basketball court. For some, the initial excitement they feel after joining the winning team in the universe fades. Maybe it’s the bad behavior of fellow teammates, or we don’t win games in the way we thought we would, or we start receiving jeers from our friends for even joining the team. We feel shame and disappointment and we confine our activities to the locker room and out on the court of life we just wear our street clothes and not the team uniform.
It’s that feeling of shame that Paul combats strongly in Romans 1:16-17. And I hope his feeling of exuberance infects us. Believe it or not, verses 16 and 17 of Romans 1 sum up the entire book of Romans. The foundation for the rest of what we read is found in these two verses.
We saw in verses 1 – 15 that Paul was just like everyone else, a man saved by Jesus Christ, who joined God’s team and now had an assignment, but one that he loved—fellowshipping with the saints and communicating the truth of who Jesus is. Why did Paul love his job so much? We see that revealed in these two short verses—basically that what God has done through Jesus is so incredible that everyone should know about it and embrace it, and not feel ashamed about it. Let’s read verses 16-17.
Why are we ashamed of the gospel?
Shame – comes from being disappointed in something we have trusted in (UBS)
• People will openly ridicule our faith. (you’re in good company)
• Friends might desert us if they know we are Christians. (you have a new family now)
• Christians have a reputation as poor examples or hypocrites. (Jesus is the example to follow, not “in process” people)
• Our faith is something private rather than public.
• Our success or achievement is worth more to us than having others know we are Christians. (what better achievement could there be than what Jesus already did for us?)
So why is Paul not ashamed? It’s because of what the gospel does?