I was a freshman in college, and my Humanities professor asked every Evangelical Christian to stand in order to shame us in front of 400 classmates. With the passing of time, hostility has accelerated towards the “testimony of our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:8), which declares every human being as deserving of God’s wrath and in need of forgiveness found only through faith in Jesus.
In our day, where everyone defines “right and wrong” themselves, and decadence is not only tolerated but celebrated, the contrary voice of Christianity is labelled “violence” that must be silenced.
The prospect of suffering is not pleasant, but increasingly present, creating a real dilemma for the followers of Christ. Will we be silent about our faith and “safe” from shame? Or speak up and suffer for His name?
God’s call on our lives is clear from Paul’s challenge to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed… but join with me in suffering for the gospel…” (2 Tim. 1:8). Nobody knew suffering for declaring salvation by grace through faith in Christ more than Paul.
He had been run out of Antioch (Acts 13), stoned and left for dead in Lystra (Acts 14), jailed in Philippi (Acts 16), chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Berea, and mocked in Athens (Acts 17). Paul had worked hard, been imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and regularly threatened with physical harm. Who wants to “join” in that?
Nobody would naturally sign up for such hardship, but Scripture offers us a supernatural reason and resource for being unashamed of proclaiming the gospel and suffering for doing so.
The reason believers should be unashamed of the glorious good news of reconciliation with God through faith in Christ is that “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.” (Romans 1:16).
Humans deserve God’s punishment because of our wickedness, but can experience pardon, peace, power to live rightly, purpose, and promised eternal blessing through repentance and faith in Jesus. This is the message God powerfully uses to save lost souls.
The elated lepers in 2 Kings 7 who initially hoarded the treasure they found eventually realized it was wrong to keep this great news to themselves. God’s good news that powerfully and eternally saves is too good to keep to ourselves, even if we suffer for sharing it.
The resource to sustain us in suffering is “the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:8). In ourselves we are cowards, but in Christ we can be courageous because, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
Let us not cower in shame but suffer for His name as we courageously proclaim the Gospel.