“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). Paul says he is not ashamed of the gospel and then proceeds to qualify his statement with the fact that it has the power to save everyone. But it is the first eight words I want to concentrate on this morning, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel….” As a minister, I have witnessed far too many people who cannot claim the same as Paul. They are the proverbial “saint” when they are within the confines of the church building and attend all the functions faithfully. People look at them, sometimes with astonishment, because of the perceived level of loyalty to Christ, but no sooner do they exit the building than they hide their “Christianity.” These are the people who only touch a Bible for something related to the church but never glance at it during other times. They return to work and act like the world. They tell and laugh at crude jokes, make fun of others, and act in ways contrary to God’s word. They trade their fake obedience to the Word for the fleeting enjoyment of the world and all its sin.
Ask them if they are a Christian in church, and they will laugh at you. “Of course, we are!” they will reply – astonished that you would ask them such an insulting question. And by all accounts, at least in the context and vicinity of the auditorium, they are, but meet them in the week at their place of business, and they will portray an entirely different picture. They wear their Christianity on their sleeve like a tattoo, proudly displaying their beliefs while among brothers and sisters in Christ. Then, when they leave, they wipe off the tattoo so that it does not betray their weekly persona. You see that tattoo is not permanent, but rather a temporary one that can be removed quickly when they are among their “other” friends. They will excuse their behavior by saying things like “But Paul became everything to everyone” or “I am only doing that to slip in under the radar and then invite them to church.” But the world does not see a Christian with a plan. It sees an individual who is ashamed of the gospel, ashamed to admit who they are and what they stand for, hiding their God for fear of being mocked or persecuted by the world.
If you do that, if you act like Christ is your Lord on Sunday but are ashamed to admit that in the week, then you need to be really careful. Your end will be something like the words of Christ in Revelation 3:15-16, “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” You simply cannot have one foot in the church and one foot in the world. You have to choose who your Master will be. You cannot love God and the world with the same intensity. “…Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Sometimes I wonder; “Is being ashamed of the gospel a betrayal of some kind?”