Are You Ashamed of the Gospel?
Written By Grayson Pope, USA
Grayson Pope (M.A., Christian Studies) is a husband and father of three, and the Managing Web Editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship. He serves as a writer and editor with Prison Fellowship. For more of Grayson’s writing check out his website, or follow him on Twitter.
I share the gospel like it’s a gift card at a kid’s birthday party—an obligatory present I hope they don’t open in front of me. Know the feeling?
If so, then we’re in good company.
Timothy, the mentee of the Apostle Paul, was a young man in over his head and out on his own. He was being sent into the marketplace, the town square, and people’s homes to tell them that Jesus was crucified, buried, then rose from the dead after three days and that this was good news for them, who were sinners by nature and separated from God.
When the Culture “Doesn’t Need” the Good News
Timothy was known to be a reluctant leader who was often timid and fearful. We learn this because Paul specifically writes to remind him of the power we have in the Spirit of God to overcome timidity (1 Timothy 1:7). Timothy also seemed to be prone to sickness (1 Timothy 5:23), and was young for his position of influence (1 Timothy 4:12).
On top of all of that, Timothy was being asked to take the gospel of Jesus into a culture that didn’t want to hear about it. The people of Ephesus were living in one of the wealthiest places in the world. Many of them would have been living comfortable lives and were perfectly content to appease the gods so they could continue their pursuit of pleasure and happiness.
Things were going pretty well for the Ephesians, so who needed God? Who wants to hear about a suffering God that was killed on a cross then raised from the dead, and is now calling us to lay our lives down and follow him?
No wonder Timothy was timid and tempted to be ashamed of the gospel.
And no wonder we’re timid and tempted to be ashamed. Surely you see the parallels in his task and ours? Like Timothy, you and I are called to take the gospel to work and into people’s homes in a time where many are apathetic or hostile to what they think of as Christianity. They’re not quite sure what it is, but they know they don’t want anything to do with it because they’re doing just fine. After all, they’ve got a roof over their head, a job that pays, and a smartphone in their pocket. Why add God to the mix when things seem to be going okay? Why can’t they just keep pursuing the American Dream?
These cultural pressures make it seem so difficult to share Jesus with our neighbors and friends and family. When it feels hard, we must remember why it’s good news, because that will help us combat the lie that people are doing okay without the gospel.
We Must First Remember the Gospel
Fortunately, we have a record of Paul’s advice to Timothy. In his second letter to the young Timothy, Paul writes,
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8-10).
In this exhortation, Paul tells Timothy to remember the gospel. He was reminding Timothy of the gospel he believed, and he was calling Timothy to preach it to himself, for it is in remembering the gospel we believe that we receive the power to proclaim it.
Are you ashamed of the gospel? Are you afraid to tell people about Jesus? Then remind yourself of the God who saved you.
When I’m fearful of sharing the gospel, I must remind myself of what I was like before knowing Christ—I was dead in my sins in which I once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, carrying out the desires of my body and mind, and was by nature, a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved me, even when I was dead in my trespasses, made me alive together with Christ—by grace I have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5)!
As we preach the gospel to ourselves, we are reminded of its powers and God’s grace, and it gives us the strength to preach the gospel to our friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors.
We Must Remember Who Empowers Us to Share
There’s another piece to us shedding any shame that might weigh down our desire to share the Gospel. Later in 2 Timothy, Paul tells Timothy exactly where he gets his boldness from when he says, “…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12).
An important part of Paul sharing the gospel boldly was remembering that God was the one behind it. Paul knew the power and majesty of the One he believed in, and his faith convinced him that as he sought to transmit the gospel to the nations, God would guard his efforts to do so.
Just as Paul was, we too, are entrusted with reaching more people for God’s Kingdom. Our confidence can grow when we remember that as we walk out that incredible commission, it’s God’s power that is guarding our efforts to share the good news with others.
The courage to share the gospel comes from the gospel. God gives us the gospel, saves us by the gospel, then gives us the power to share the gospel.
Father, keep the taste of your grace always on my lips and let me not shrink from lavishing it on your children. Remind me of the grace and mercy you poured out on me as I go and pour it out for someone else.
This article was originally published by Gospel Centered Discipleship. This version has been edited by YMI.
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