Are you ashamed of the Gospel?
This post will be not be what you would probably expect in a writing about Easter. As we celebrate our risen LORD on Sunday, we remember the victory that was won on that hill in Jerusalem. But as we celebrate we must also be aware the plan of our enemy, who seeks to diminish that victory or deny it outright. Now more than ever we must be committed to proclaiming the truth.
We are in dangerous times. Past the post-modern indifference to the gospel, and the perceived insignificance of the church that it has brought, and in the midst of outright hostility and persecution. I see evidence of this on many fronts, blatant intolerance, persecution masquerading as “non-discrimination” and outright violence against Christianity. In times like these it is easy to lash out and go on the offensive towards those who are being used to precipitate these attacks, but we must not forget we do not battle against flesh and blood.
Palm Sunday is over, Good Friday has arrived, and my question is,
“Are you ashamed of the gospel?”
Robert George professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University recently asked this question in a speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The following is from that speech.
“Am I ashamed of the Gospel? This question opens other questions. Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, and give public witness to the massively, politically incorrect truths of the Gospel? Truths that are rejected by an elite culture shaped by expressive individualism, and me-generation liberalism that do not want to hear it spoken?
To put it more simply am I willing or unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ? Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel.
To be ashamed of our belief in the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions.
To be ashamed of our belief in the unalienable right given even in our constitution that every member of the human family, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, is the bearer of inherent dignity and an equal right to life?
To be ashamed of our belief in what the Bible teaches, beginning in Genesis with Adam and Eve, and throughout the human story in the Bible, that marriage is between one man and one woman?
To be ashamed of our belief that every precious child in the womb is a creature made in the image and likeness of God and deserves respect and protection. If you refuse to be ashamed then powerful people and institutions say you are a:
misogynist—a hater of women, someone who poses a threat to people’s privacy, an enemy of women’s “reproductive freedom.”
homophobes, a bigot, someone who doesn’t believe in equality. You even represent a threat to people’s safety. You ought to be ashamed!
But, of course, what you believe, if you believe these things, is a crucial part of the Gospel. You believe the truth—in its fullness—about the dignity of the human person and the nature of marriage and sexual morality as proclaimed by the Bible—our only secure source of understanding the Gospel message.
When you are invited to distance yourself from these teachings or go silent about them, when you are threatened with the loss of professional opportunities or social standing if you do not, slandered, vilified, threatened with loss of business and income as has happened recently in Oregon, New Mexico, Washington, and other places, violence of the type that occurred against those who supported prop. 8 in California in 2008 and is happening now, when you are threatened with being thrown in jail under the guise of hate speech, when these things happen you are being pressured to be ashamed of the Gospel—which means to give up faith in the Lordship of Christ and hope in the triumph of goodness, righteousness, and love in and through Him.
Yes Good Friday has arrived. The memory of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded. Yes, he had been greeted—and not long ago—by throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David.” He rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King. But all that is now in the past. Friday has come. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel and his Church is over. Elite sectors of the cultures of Europe and North America no longer welcome his message. “Away with him,” they shout. “Give us Barabbas!”
As I read this I was reminded that Daniel, when facing the lion’s den, and the pressure to bow and pray only to the god of his culture had three possible choices.
- Say nothing, take his faith into hiding “It doesn’t involve me so no need to get involved”
- Live out his beliefs on the “down low” only talk about it only in private, fade into the crowd
- Open the window and pray. Continue to worship God even in unfavorable circumstances, and stand for Him.
We face the same choices today…
On that Friday long ago it must have seemed to the followers of Jesus that all was lost. The popularity, the acceptance, and the shouts of “Hosanna” by the crowds, over. Replaced by shouts of “crucify him, crucify him”
And now he is dying, hanging on a Roman cross. But what seemed like the worst thing turned out to be the best thing. And we know the end of the story. Our choices are clear. We can choose to not be ashamed of the Gospel, choose to be a part of His story, and accept whatever may come, or choose their story.
It may be Friday but Sunday is coming…
What will your choice be?