Shame is a powerful emotion. According to Brené Brown, the iconic shame researcher from the University of Houston, “Shame is an epidemic in our culture.”
We’ve all heard about mom-shaming, body or fat-shaming, and all sorts of social “phobias” that result in shame. Similarly, as Christians, we have all felt shame for our beliefs, just as Jesus warned we would. We have all, in some way, felt ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Overcoming shame associated with our faith can be challenging. That’s what makes Paul’s declaration in Romans 1:16 all the more powerful. He says:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 ESV
Why Are We Sometimes Ashamed Of the Gospel?
Overcoming shame and proudly proclaiming, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” can seem scary at first. That’s because shame is the fear of disconnection.
It makes us ask, “Is there something about me that makes me unworthy of love and connection?” We’ve all been there, even when it comes to our faith. We fear that if we were to truly live a life worthy of the gospel we would no longer be worthy of love and connection with others. The fact that we are Christians, set apart by God, makes us different from those around us. Some will embrace that difference, but others will hate us for it. Jesus even warned us that we would be persecuted for our faith.
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30 ESV
Some people may say, “So what? I don’t care what people think about me,” and that may be somewhat true. But, many of us throw up the “I don’t care what people think,” shield to hide from the judgment of others. Even more of us, myself included, simply keep quiet about our faith and the gospel.
According to Brené Brown, that silence is a breeding ground for shame. In fact, shame needs three things to thrive: secrecy, silence, and judgment. We cannot control the judgment of others, but we can choose to break the silence and speak up about our faith. But, how do we do that?
How Do We Overcome Shame?
Overcoming shame and being able to share the gospel with others is of utmost importance as Christians. But, how do we make it happen? If shame thrives in secrecy, silence, and judgment, we have to find a place where we can be open, confident and accepted. While other friends and even the body of Christ is a great place to start, our ultimate refuge can be found in Jesus. In him, we can find all we need to overcome shame and loudly proclaim, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ!”
We Can Be Completely Open With Jesus
Being completely open with Jesus helps us with overcoming shame because we no longer have to hide our sins in secret. In fact, Jesus already knows all of our sins. He became them. He died for them. And now, we no longer have to live in shame for what we’ve done.
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 ESV
Don’t be afraid of this truth. I know being “naked and exposed” sounds a little scary, but look what we are able to enjoy because we are able to be completely open with Jesus. For more, check out this post about finding your identity in Christ.
We Can Be Confident In Our Relationship With God Because of Jesus
Hebrews 4 teaches that Jesus is the catalyst for overcoming shame. Through him, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence!
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
Confidence means assurance, certainty, determination…courage. The word “courage” comes from the Latin word cor, meaning heart. In French, the word for heart is coeur. In Spanish, it’s corazon. So, courage comes from the heart, from who we are, from our authentic selves. In the presence of Jesus, we can have the courage to live as our true selves. We are open and laid bare before him, and he loves us, not despite our true selves but because of it.
Jesus Shields Us From Judgment
Remember when we talked about the presence of judgment as being one of the factors that breeds shame? Jesus makes it possible to overcome our shame by shielding us from judgment.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 ESV
To be clear, God still condemns sin because he is the true and righteous judge. Sin deserves judgment. It deserves condemnation. It deserves punishment. However, Jesus took the judgement of our sin. He took the condemnation and he took the punishment. He allowed our sin to be separated from us so that we can live freely, authentically, and completely without shame or separation from God and each other.
And that is the good news of the gospel! We are free from our sin and shame–the fear of being unworthy of love and connection because of who we are or what we’ve done.
What Does It Mean That I Am NOT Ashamed Of the Gospel?
The basis of the gospel is a connection–connection with God and with each other. Because we have been brought near by the blood of Christ, we are free to live the way God created us: completely uncovered and unashamed before God and man. This is how it was in the beginning. After God created man and woman in his image, his plan was that they live in perfect unity with him and with each other.
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25
They Were Not Ashamed Of Who They Were Created to Be, And Neither Should We
And because we are new creations in Christ, to live any other way would be inauthentic, untrue. It would be trading the freedom we have in Christ for the sin and shame of the world. Sin gives us a cover to hide who we truly are in Christ, but we don’t need a cover! Jesus says it this way:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV
To be unashamed of the gospel of Christ is to live freely as a city on a hill, a light on a stand, doing good for the glory of God so that others can see us and take hope that they too can be one with God and live authentically too.
When we truly understand the freedom we have in Christ, we can overcome our shame and proclaim loudly for all to hear, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ!!”
Want to read more on our study of the Book of Romans? Make sure to check out onelostcoin.com!
Hey, friend! I’m Erin, the mama behind Lullaby Lark. I help discouraged moms find hope and healing in Jesus. I live in Augusta, Georgia with my husband, Ben, my two sons, Griffin and Caspian, and our two fur babies, Ollie and Izzy. Griffin was born with a chronic lung disease called pulmonary hypertension, a small congenital heart defect, and some other complicating factors. We have spent the past three years learning and growing together through this experience and relying on the hope that we have in Jesus. You can connect with me on the blog, Facebook, or Pinterest.