In Nothing I Shall Be Ashamed
It is truly heart breaking to read, on a regular basis, of the departures that are taking place within the body of Christ. I received an article this week that claimed one of our Christian Universities boasted of knowing of over 100 congregations that have begun using women in leadership positions. This is just one area where we are aware of the changes that are taking place.
The apostle Paul, writing while a prisoner, made a remarkable statement to the church at Philippi that caused me to wonder if this might be part of the problem we are seeing today. Though a prisoner (Philippians 1:7), and though some were preaching Christ hoping to increase his suffering (1:15-18), Paul said his “hope and expectation” was that “in nothing I shall be ashamed.” He hoped that even in prison he would still be able to boldly proclaim the message of Christ. Paul did not want his suffering to lead him to be ashamed of being a Christian or ashamed of the gospel of Christ. As I read that, I wondered if part of the problem today is that we are ashamed!
Are we ashamed or embarrassed to be known as a religious group that does not approve of the use of instrumental music in our worship? Are we ashamed or embarrassed that we do not allow women to assume leadership positions in the church of our Lord? Are we ashamed or embarrassed to teach that Jesus built one church and that denominationalism is unknown in the Word of God and division is sinful? Are we ashamed or embarrassed to teach what the Bible teaches about the place of baptism in God’s plan for redeeming lost mankind? Someone might ask, “Why would anyone be ashamed or embarrassed by these things?” I fear that we are more concerned about what society thinks of us than what God thinks of us! I have heard or read statements such as these: “If we don’t introduce instrumental music into our worship, we will never reach younger people, because they like it.” Or, “Do we really want to be known as the church that doesn’t use instrumental music?” I feel certain that in this day of political correctness what we teach concerning women’s role in the church and the oneness of the church is considered “unenlightened and archaic.” It would do us well to remember, however, that Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and, again, in 3:18-20, that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God. As Christians, we would do well to remember that true knowledge and wisdom begins with a proper respect for God and His Word. (Proverbs 1:7) In Ephesians 5:6-10 Paul reminded Christians at Ephesus not to be deceived by “empty words” and to remember they were once in “darkness” but had been brought to the “light” through Jesus Christ. He then challenged them to “walk as children of light” and to “prove what is acceptable to the Lord.” It is only in Christ that we can be truly “enlightened” and have a real knowledge of what is true and right.
Paul was determined to boldly magnify Christ in his body, whether by life or death. Regardless of what it cost him, he was not going to be ashamed of Christ or the gospel of Christ. If I might borrow from the language of the Hebrew writer: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” We have not come close to suffering as early Christians suffered, yet, it seems to me we are ashamed and embarrassed of the simple message of Christ simply because of what others might think of us! I pray we might find Paul’s love for God, his love for the gospel, and determine that regardless of what man may think of us, we will not be ashamed. –PO Box 110, Barrackville, WV 26550-0110.
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