I always thought being unashamed was bold evangelism. Wearing our Christian T-shirts and jewelry out in public. Truthfully speaking up when someone asks our religion.
It seems I was wrong – it’s much more than that.
Over the past few months, God has been challenging me about being a good example of Christ. During my prayer time the other morning, He brought the phrase “not ashamed of the gospel” to mind. Not surprising, since it’s one thing I’ve been praying each week over the students I work with.
His whisper to my heart was quite convicting: Before He could answer my prayer for the youth, I needed to be truly unashamed about my own relationship with Him. Then others would follow.
His words seemed odd, because I thought I was already unashamed. Turns out, I really didn’t know myself like I thought.
- Because when He asked me to lay prostrate in the parking lot that day, I was embarrassed.
- When He asked me to ignore all the other people in the sanctuary and simply enjoy His music, I was embarrassed.
- When He asked me to raise my hands in praise as I walked around the building, I was embarrassed.
- When He asked me to kneel and pray with my hand on the church wall, I was embarrassed.
- When He asked me to worship Him, singing out load by myself in that little chapel, I was embarrassed.
The fear of what people might say about me if they saw what I was doing made me timid. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve actually been a slave to the approval of others. To say that these behaviors are not normal, that we’ve never done it that way before, that I don’t have the right family tree – all of those are merely excuses, none of which made a different to Him when I voiced them.
Because He doesn’t care what other people think about my actions – His goal has never been to impress His creation. It’s my own desire for approval that holds me back.
I’m ashamed to admit that I have, indeed, been ashamed.
So much of what I’ve gone through this past year is beginning to make more sense. His challenges to step out of my comfort zone have been more than a mere test of my courage, strength, or obedience.
He’s been teaching me what it really looks like to not be ashamed of Him, and it’s not at all what I expected.
His gentle words from the other morning still bring tears to my eyes. “If you’re ashamed to worship and obey in front of believers, how can you represent Me to a lost world? If you can’t do these small things for Me without worrying what people will think, how can you do bigger things later, when there is more on the line than your reputation?”
To be ashamed includes hiding certain expressions of faith because we don’t want others to judge us for being different. While we certainly should not flaunt anything just to get the attention of others, and there are some situations so personal that they must remain between us and God (such as certain prayers or fasting), neither does God wish us to be timid Christians who refuse to openly acknowledge Him because we don’t want to look foolish to others.
When David danced before the Lord, his wife Michal disdained him. Hated him. Mocked him. Sometimes people will not understand our acts of love or obedience, nor should we expect everyone to agree with us. We can’t let that stop us from expressing our affection and appreciation. No where does scripture tell us to keep our reverence and worship hidden from others.
No where does the Bible say that our actions have to make sense to everyone if we want to please the Lord.
My one consolation is that even though I was embarrassed each time, I still did everything He asked. Hopefully next time, I can follow His urging with boldness.
Because it’s all about Him.
And not the people watching me.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16