Learning to Love Others

Week 2, Day 3

Learning to Love Others

By: Hillary Dunham

Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first the Jew, and also to the Greek. “

The Enemy uses this verse like a bludgeon with me. I feel hot. I am ashamed of the gospel!

“If you were a good Christian, you wouldn’t hate evangelism … you don’t even have any non-Christian friends to share with … and you even have the nerve to serve on the board of your church!”

Wait … STOP!

What does Paul mean by the gospel and what does he mean by ashamed?

Backing up to verses 1-15, Paul says the gospel is:

  • What was promised and prophesied about in the Holy Scriptures

  • Is about Jesus Christ, the son of a human king (fully man)

  • Is about Jesus Christ, the son of God (because he was resurrected from the dead – fully God)

  • Is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to Jew and then to Greek.

Craig Keener, in his New Testament commentary, reminded me that Romans was written to a group of early Jewish and Gentile believers. They were confused if they needed to become ethnically Jewish before they could become Christians.

Paul reminds them that all people come to God on the same terms – faith in Christ – no matter their background.  

Right. OK, if that’s the gospel, what’s this bit about “not being ashamed”? What is shame?

Now, I know what shame feels like – I’ll do anything to avoid it. But it’s hard to define.

Dan Allender notes that shame includes exposure, rejection, and the complications of misplaced trust. Think of Adam and Eve in the garden. I am afraid you will abandon me if you see me for who I really am: degenerate and broken. So I hide.

So, what does Paul mean that he doesn’t have shame about the gospel?

Another way to say it: his trust is well-founded. His confidence is not misplaced.

Do I believe this gospel? That even I come to God by my faith, not by my works of superior evangelism and super Christian skills?

When I am broken, naked, weak, and afraid, the Enemy amplifies my shame.

But God comes to me, whispering that he knows, and he loves me still. He lifts my shame in the powerful name of Jesus.

In this place of humble dependence on him, the gospel is indeed good news worthy of my full confidence.   

Reflection Questions

This verse, instead of being an accusation of the shame that Paul refutes, becomes an anthem of praise.  

Am I in awe of what God is restoring in me?

What he is saving me from, day after day after day?

Awe leaves no room for shame: Praise and thanksgiving are its natural outflow.

I am confident of God’s ability to save everyone in Jesus, regardless of their background or what they have or haven’t done. And that includes sinners like me, who still doesn’t care for fancy evangelism techniques and tricks – but who is in awe of a God who knows me at my most broken and desperate, who loves, restores, and saves me.  

That is good news I want to share with people.  

“Anyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:11).