Romans 1: 16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel,<sup class="crossreference" value="(AG)”> because it is the power of God<sup class="crossreference" value="(AH)”> that brings salvation to everyone who believes:<sup class="crossreference" value="(AI)”> first to the Jew,<sup class="crossreference" value="(AJ)”> then to the Gentile.”

     I know about shame.  As a child I was ashamed of myself.  I didn’t really know why.  All I knew is that I didn’t measure up.  The other kids at school didn’t like me and so something had to be wrong with me.  I started not liking myself.  ‘My’ shame slowly conforming me into the image of how I felt others saw me.

     As an adult I can remember aspects of my childhood and ‘understand’ why things happened.  My parents were immigrants so that’s why kids told me that I should go back to where I belong.  I was raised on a working farm and we didn’t have indoor plumbing so I smelled like a barn some of the time so that’s why kids told me I stank.  My parents were poor  so we had to go to the Salvation Army to get our clothes and one year the only winter coat available in my size was a girl’s coat.  I wore it and got beat up in it.  As an adult I know shame isn’t something your born with.    Shame when it is imposed and undeserved wounds deeply and leaves a scar that reaches to your core.

     Shaming is a terrible weapon that people can use on others; “As bullying destroys self-confidence and self-esteem, it is natural and normal for anyone being bullied to start to feel undue amounts of shame. The bully heaps on the guilt, thus increasing the belief in their victim they (the target of this abuse) are deserving of all the bad things that are now happening to them.”  (bullyonline.org)

     Paul was bullied by those that hated His message; “The Jews had cast him off, and regarded him as an apostate; and by the wise among the Gentiles he had been persecuted, and despised, and driven from place to place, and regarded as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things . . . ”  (Barnes’ Notes)  Not being a child Paul was able to ‘fight back’ and defend not only himself but His message; “He had so firm a conviction of its value and its truth; he had experienced so much of its consolations; and had seen so much of its efficacy; that he was so far from being ashamed of it that he gloried in it as the power of God unto salvation.” (Barnes’ Notes)

     Today, Christians are shamed by society.  The name of Jesus  ‘offends‘ people. The Bible is banned in public schools and Christians are persecuted for standing up for their views.   This continual barrage can take its toll on people of faith.  Paul describes our situation perfectly; “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted,but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9)  The true church has come full circle to times of persecution again.

    How will we respond – like Paul and the early Christian church?  Or will we be bullied and become ashamed of ourselves and the Gospel?  There really isn’t a choice for the true Christian.  Jesus tells us clearly; “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”  (Luke 9:26)

     We can overcome bullying.  I did.  We can walk without fear sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ because Jesus also promised; “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  ‘Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.'”  (Luke 6: 22,23)

     Praise the Lord!

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