While we don’t see this explicitly stated in Scripture I do think it’s implied in at least two different places.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NKJV)
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 2 Timothy 1:8 (NKJV)
Now why would there be shame associated with the Gospel? Let me give you several reasons from Paul’s perspective that there might have been cause for shame at the Gospel.
Paul lived in a sinfully depraved world. One of my commentaries described Rome as a “moral sewer, a cesspool of detestable and inconceivable wickedness.” But it wasn’t just Rome. Much of the world of Paul’s day could be described in this way. In fact many of the cities he had gone to were just about this bad. The sinful depravity of Paul’s world made the moral righteousness of the Gospel seem freakishly out of touch with the modern world. The sinful depravity of Paul’s world made the moral righteousness that the Gospel calls people to seem ridiculous in light of modern morality.
The Gospel was unbelievably foolish and offensive. The message of the Gospel is that God left the glories of heaven, took on human flesh, despised Jewish flesh no less, was born a baby, lived a sinless life and yet was executed in a most humiliating way and then rose from the dead. Not only did this God die on the cross but His death was to pay the penalty for the sins of others, so that through faith in Him they could be made righteous because apart from Him they were condemned and unrighteous. This message was unbelievably foolish and offensive to the people of Paul’s day.
Paul was often rejected because of the Gospel. Not by one or two people mind you. Very often he was rejected by entire communities. At times his life was threatened. At other times he was rejected as a fool. At times his life was nearly taken. This all happened to him because of the Gospel.
Can you see where it would have been easy for Paul to become ashamed of the Gospel and not share it with others? Now don’t get me wrong. Paul would probably never say he was ashamed of the Gospel and neither would we. But he might have demonstrated shame by not sharing the Gospel when opportunities arose because he feared how others may respond. What if they made fun of him for believing in such outdated ideas like sin and righteousness? What if they called him a fool for believing and sharing such a ridiculous message? What if it offended them and made them angry? Wouldn’t these questions and fears make it tempting to hide the Gospel and not share it with other?
Our culture and world is not so different from the world Paul lived in. Really the things that were true in Paul’s world then are true of our world today. We also have an added pressure of our culture trying to make evangelism evil.
“[Proselytizing] is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,”
The same guy who made that statement said in another place,
“Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”
Now these particular statements were in reference to soldiers trying to evangelize other soldiers. But the guy who made them basically feels this way about all Christians. Notice the way that Christians were characterized in this. He said that evangelism is like spiritually raping someone and those who evangelize are monsters who used a weaponized and twisted Christianity. Man that’s harsh.
We also can’t miss that the guy is basically saying that evangelization is civil rights violation. That’s what the guy is really trying to convince us of. He wants the world to think that we violate basic human rights when we share the Gospel. After all, that’s why we’re predators that are spiritually raping others.
I would like to say that this guy is so far out of mainstream that no one will listen to him. But that’s just not accurate. This guy served as White House Counsel in the Reagan administration and general counsel to H. Ross Perot. The second statement I read was from an article on the Huffington Post. This guy’s view may not be the norm yet but the number of people who embrace his basic opinion are growing.
The greatest danger isn’t in the world embracing this mindset. It is in Christians embracing this mindset. If Christians embrace this mindset, then Satan will have won a major victory because we will then be ashamed of the Gospel. We will become ashamed of the morality of the Gospel. We will be ashamed of the message of the Gospel. We will be too ashamed to share the Gospel or openly declare our faith in Jesus. And this is exactly what Satan wants us to be.
How do we prevent ourselves from being hindered by Satan’s roadblock? Remember who Jesus is, what the Gospel does and why we do what we do. It is critical for us to remember these things. The world does not understand the big deal about Jesus. In the mind of many people in the world Jesus is little more than our invisible buddy in the sky.
I know we are familiar with who Jesus is but let me take a minute and remind us so that we know why we should never be ashamed of Jesus or the message about Jesus. Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus left the glories of heaven to come to earth in a miraculous way. As Jesus lived in this life He did all sorts of miracles, helped all sorts of people, taught all sorts of great things and in the process did everything that God wanted done. Jesus never sinned once.
Despite all the good that Jesus did, He was despised, rejected and murdered. Those who hated Jesus plotted against Him and convinced the Roman governor to condemn Him to be crucified. Before being crucified Jesus was viciously beaten and mocked. He was then taken and nailed to a cross where He hung in shame enduring the mocking of the crowd until He died. But this death wasn’t tragic, it was the reason He came. He did more on the cross than die because of the crucifixion.
As Jesus was hanging on the cross, God poured out all of His just wrath against our sin on Jesus. Jesus basically endured hell on the cross. Jesus endured hell on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to endure hell for all eternity. On the cross He paid the penalty our sins deserved. Once He endured all the wrath of God that our sins deserved He cried out, “It is finished” and He died.
Three days after His death, Jesus rose victoriously from the grave, ascended into heaven and ever lives to make intercession for us. Now, through faith in what Jesus did on the cross, our sins can be forgiven and we can genuinely know God in this life and go to be with Him in the next. There is no way that we could believe this and ever be ashamed of Jesus or ashamed of serving Jesus.
Secondly, we remember what the Gospel does. Paul says that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. In the Gospel message there is divine authoritative power that can do what no other power on the earth can do. It can change lives by bringing them to the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ. All they have to do is believe. When they believe they are changed. The Gospel can make real, lasting and legitimate changes in people’s lives. The Gospel isn’t a self-help book that teaches us to improve certain aspects of our lives. The Gospel is the means by which God works to make incredible changes in people’s lives. There is no way to believe that the Gospel changes people for the better and be ashamed of it.
Finally, let’s remember why we do what we do in inviting people to church and sharing the Gospel with them. If we were truly oppressing people or trying to force them to embrace our religion then we could be ashamed but that is not even close to why we do what we do.
“Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Jude 1:23 (NLT)
The picture Jude paints of the effects of someone believing in Jesus is incredible. We should do whatever it takes to ensure that this image of telling people about Jesus is always on our minds. When we tell someone about Jesus and they repent and believe in Jesus, they are literally snatched from the flames of judgment.
The picture we see from Jude is that the lost dangle precariously over the fires of hell and desperately need someone to snatch them from the flames of judgment that will one day consume them. There is only one person who can save them and that person is Jesus. Their only hope is in the saving power of Jesus Christ
Believers are not oppressing anyone by telling them about Jesus. Believers are not “spiritually raping” people by telling them about Jesus. We are actually doing the best good for them that can possibly be done. We are telling them about the only hope they have of being spared from the wrath of God. We do what we do to snatch them from the flames of judgment. That is nothing to ever be ashamed of. We cannot let the world make us ashamed of Jesus, the Gospel or what we do in telling people about Jesus.