“For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live” (Romans 1:16-17). Four occurrences of ‘Faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.
After 30+ years of preaching ministry, I have come to know the personal difficulties of ‘unashamed proclamation’.
First, there is the fact of ‘The Living Word’ as Gospel being ‘Truth’ with a capital T— ‘His Truth is Marching…’; in spite of our inability to ‘know the Truth’. Then, there is sin! (OK?) In our times sin is being justified, glorified, and personified. To be sure, more preachers stand in the holy place of Gospel proclamation calling on satan in a more powerful way than they call on God. The wages of sin…?
‘Epaiscunomai/Ashamed’, then, is personal despair. It has the sense of confoundedness; being disillusioned; it is ‘DIS’grace’. In the religious sense it is the exposure of the soul; baring all consequences. This word is commonly used as opposite of ‘doza/glory’; here a contrast can be seen as between light and darkness. Ashamed is a state of being that is brought on by self; it is ‘divine judgement’ based upon one’s own actions or lack thereof; sometimes of actions still hidden.
I am reminded of how often I’ve heard in discussion about how void the content of preaching is. The average person leaves the Church on Sunday and when asked what did the Preacher say the response is ‘it was good’— nothing more. I have come to discover that major issues and actions of sinful nature go undisclosed when ‘the messenger’ is particpatory. This ‘ashamedness’ of the Gospel sends the Christian community further and further away from Truth as preaching becomes (what Dr. Clark used to say) “shallow and in the shadows”.
During the “Mortgage Fraud Foreclosure Crisis” I attended a NACA Workshop and heard the facilitator break into the Q&A and proclaim to a confounded homeowner, “NACA could care less about that… NOBODY CARES!” After the workshop ended a small group of us lingered on the Church steps sharing our ‘foreclosure battle scars’. The same facilitator came out the door and in the midst said to me, ‘NOBODY CARES, it’s a reality, Nobody Cares’.
Paul has given a most powerful message in this text— I am not in personal despair, nor am I confounded about the GOOD NEWS that GOD CARES. I am not disillusioned, nor am I ‘dissed’ in grace— GOD CARES! I am not in darkness, but see LIGHT (somebody hear me say GLORY) just because I know GOD CARES.
In proclaiming the Good News to a world that has problems with TRUTH and REALITY, here is a ‘for real’ contribution that Paul has made to Christianity— there IS NO SHAME in proclaiming the TRUTH of the Gospel for, IT ALONE is God’s saving power.
by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprint #162 – Apr 23, 2010