Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
These words resonate with me deeply. But every once in a while, I need to remind myself that these words are more than just something I say in the presence of those who believe just as I do. It takes little courage for me to boldly proclaim that I am not ashamed of the gospel in front of the congregation where I serve as pastor. They already accept that as a given. But what about saying it in the midst of an unbelieving world? Isn't that what the "gospel" (i.e, "good news") is all about? God wants to save everyone who believes. That truly is good news.
Paul declared that he was a debtor to all men in that he owed them a presentation of the gospel. He had an obligation. I realize Paul was an apostle, and not an ordinary guy like myself, but I'm a debtor too. You see, God transformed me and gave me new life. He demonstrated that even a person with a miserable past can be saved and actually become a useful part of the kingdom of God. What kind of person would I be, if I kept that all to myself? No, I believe I have a responsibility to share the testimony of this powerful transformation.
Paul goes on to say that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God and His saving activity. Believe it or not, salvation was God's idea all along. So why would anyone be ashamed of this good news? Well, if we continue to read the first chapter of Romans, we also learn that there's another side of the equation which is the wrath of God. It's difficult for some to reconcile the idea that a loving God who saves can also have wrath. But it is the holiness of God that illuminates our own unrighteousness and need for salvation. Paul would also say that God has revealed Himself to humanity. The creation of the world itself is a testimony to God's existence and power. Frankly, it takes much more faith than logic to believe that the world we live in came together due to a random explosion and fusion of molecules. Or that men gradually came out of the sea and eventually stood up on two legs and evolved from monkeys. That would truly require faith since no one has ever actually seen any of these supposed events take place; but I digress....
Men were created to worship. Each one of us comes into the world with a need to reach out to something bigger than ourselves. It is inevitable that we are going to worship something. Even though we may not call it "worship" or use religious semantics, we will devote ourselves to something- knowledge, power, possessions, pleasure. The letter to the Romans tells us that even a refusal to acknowledge the Creator doesn't mean that worship is abandoned. Instead, we will turn and worship the creation instead of the Creator (Romans 1:25). The results are always disastrous (just read Romans 1:26-32).
That brings me back to my original thought. I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I have an obligation to share God's story of redemption with those in my life from every circle and sphere of influence. There are times when committing time to update this blog seems very burdensome. But I do it because I know there are some who will stumble upon it while surfing some random corner of the world-wide web. And hopefully when they do find it, they'll find Jesus too (and sometimes, believers need to be encouraged- hopefully this blog serves that purpose as well). I earned my degree in business management, but God saw fit to call me into full-time ministry. And now my "work" is to share the gospel each week and serve as a pastor to a local congregation. I'm in the process of working on several books, and the Lord has blessed me with musical abilities. I just completed work on my first CD entitled "Paradigm"- a collection of guitar-driven instrumentals. I love music. But my real hope is that people will not only enjoy the music, but hopefully look to the One who inspired the music within me. And if I can influence one person with the transforming good news of Jesus Christ, then it will all be worth it.
You see, I'm a debtor to all men, just like Paul. I may never stand before great men or travel to all the places that he did. Nevertheless, I must be faithful in the place that God has planted me. And I've got to use all the gifts and insights that he's allowed me to borrow while I'm here on this journey. And I can't just use them for myself and my own agenda. And I can't afford to be complacent and just hope that someone else will pick up the slack. The stakes are too high. Jesus is coming again. If you haven't figured it out already, today's blog was as much for me as it was for you. I need to be reminded why I'm here in this world, and what truly matters. Clearly Paul had his priorities straight. I'm not there yet, but He's still working on me! Until next time....