I am gay and proud. I’m a chain smoker. I’m a thug. I just divorced my fifth husband. I’ve sold my soul to the devil. None of these describe me. God forbid that they do. But my point is this: people in today’s world, are proud of what they should be ashamed of. Some, through fame and noise—the media—have managed to get the world used to shameful things. But, who defines shame anyway? We all look at the same things and see them differently, because we see the world through different lenses. But before I bother about the perceived shamelessness of other people, I need to ask the pertinent question of whether I am proud of whom I am. Even though I think they should be ashamed of who they are, at least they appear to be proud of who or what they are or do, and are not ashamed to tell it to the world.
It’s a challenge to me. Especially me who belongs to a group of people who have the mandate show to the world “the way, the truth and the life—Jesus Christ”. And I’m expected to do this in word and deed. In order to define shame effectively, I realized that I need to view every single action of mine and of other people around me through God’s lens. God’s lens of course, is His word. What does God call shame?
Shame has its origin in Eden, the garden where God placed the first set of creatures, including man and woman. Speaking of the man and the woman, the Bible records that “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Gen. 2:25). They did not know shame until they sinned “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” (Gen. 3:7, 8). Before they sinned, they were naked and were not ashamed. The image of God in them was depreciated by sin and the first thing they felt was shame. It helps me to know that whatever is sinful is shameful. It is embarrassing to be lost and not be covered by Christ’s robe of righteousness.
They felt shame because of what they did, but as the years passed, that which they were ashamed of, men began to do with impunity, feeling no shame. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5). About 1,600 years after Adam was created, that was God’s lamentation concerning humanity. Man had gotten used to sin so much that they wouldn’t even mind to commit abominations with angels—rape and homosexuality. (Gen. 19:5). Their sense of shame had been numbed.
Same is what the majority of the world is suffering today. Satan is actively, day by day, numbing our sense of shame. Sadly, he’s succeeding. The majority of the world is getting used to the bad smell of sin. The comedians joke about it and we laugh about shameful things. The media floods our TV screens, movies and magazines with shameful things, and we are used to the dirt. It’s no longer shame. Satan has succeeded in insidiously introducing shame to us as the norm. The Christian ought not to have pleasure in watching or laughing at such things. (Rom. 1:32). But, they are the favorite of some.
It wouldn’t bother me much if the people of the world—non-Christians—are not ashamed of sin, the bible already says it that “the unjust knows no shame” (Zeph. 3:5), but what bothers me is when Christians are ashamed of what God has called them to be—examples. Jesus Christ came to reconcile us to the father, but much more than that, He came that He might restore the image of God in us. That as “we all with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18). God desires that when we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary, and allow Him to make of us new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). Creatures who would hate sin and love righteousness. Who would not be ashamed of the change being wrought in them by the power of the Holy Spirit and make them think and act differently from the way of the world. He wishes that they “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2). Jesus does not want us to get used to the bad smell, He wants our desires transformed.
Like the apostle Paul, He wants us to openly declare saying “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16). Paul mentions the subject of shame because there was sufficient reason for him to be ashamed. He speaks of these reasons in his letter to the Corinthians, he writes “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:22-24). On the home front, Paul was facing opposition from the Jews because they were expecting a monarchal Messiah, who would come with great power and glory to deliver them from oppression. They required a sign and so a crucified Messiah was a stumblingblock to their ego. And away from home, Paul faced ridicule from the Greeks who were the fathers of philosophy. They sought after wisdom, and the idea of a crucified Messiah was a discordant music in their ears—foolishness. But Paul says I am not ashamed to preach the crucified Christ, no matter how anybody feels about it, because it is the power of God. Paul speaks of the gospel he preaches as “the power of God unto salvation” in his letter to the Romans, and He speaks of the crucified Christ as “the power of God” in his missive to the Corinthians. I deduce from that that the Christ which Paul preaches is the crucified Christ.
Anyone is hardly ashamed of the miracle working Christ. I see Peter by the side of Christ when He fed the five thousand (John 6) and when He healed his mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14, 15), Peter could handle a miracle working Jesus, even to the point of His arrest when he had to cut off a man’s ear in defense of Christ (John 18:10). Even though He didn’t understand everything He said, at least He could bear with a miracle working Christ. But when he saw his all powerful Jesus being led to be killed, he couldn’t bear to see Him suffer, it was too much for him. Peter denied the suffering Christ. Peter was not ashamed of that Jesus who worked many miracles, but was ashamed of the one who would have to suffer and die for His sins. You say what’s the difference?
Like many who call Christ’s name in today’s world, he was not ashamed of the Jesus who healed his mother-in-law, but he was ashamed of the sacrificial Jesus. It’s easy for me to stand in front of a whole congregation and tell of how God worked a miracle and got me a job. No, I’m not ashamed of that Jesus. But I can’t tell my friends that I’m a virgin. I’m ashamed of that Jesus. I want the Jesus that works miracles, and the Jesus that can heal me of my diseases, but the Jesus which Paul is not ashamed of, is the Jesus which recreates a new person in you, and gives you a new character, we are ashamed of that Jesus, because He makes you live your life differently from other people and they’re going to think that you are abnormal. Paul was not ashamed of the Jesus which He preached. The Jesus of the cross, who “works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13), and not of the pleasures of the world.
This Jesus doesn’t just bless you with riches and not want to transform your character, and that is the Jesus that we are ashamed of. The Jesus that makes you say: I’m sorry, I can’t cheat in the exam or toy with the money in the treasury anymore, I gave my life to Christ; that is the Jesus we are ashamed of. We can’t club together anymore, we can’t drink and party together anymore, I gave my life to Jesus; that’s the Jesus we are ashamed of. The Jesus that makes separates us from the world, “The Jesus of the cross”, the crucified Christ. He doesn’t just want to protect you, he wants to cleanse your heart with His blood. The very purpose for which Jesus came to the earth is to cleanse your heart and restore God’s image in you, in order that you may abhor sin and be unashamed of righteousness. The crucified Christ sure works miracles but one must accept the miracles with the crucifixion—a total package. Crucifixion, a symbol of the death of our sinful nature, Paul says “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Rom. 6:6). The message of the crucified Christ doesn’t make the sinful nature feel comfortable with her sins; it makes the sinner ask, “What must I do to be saved?” and it also makes Him ask “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
God desires that Christians will be an example of a godly life to sinners. Because in contrast to the worldly thinking which says that “if you can’t beat them, you join them”, Jesus has not called us to beat them, he has rather called us to show them an example. Paul wrote to Timothy saying “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12). And so, when a Christian is ashamed of the crucified Christ, he or she robs the world of the opportunity of seeing what a Christ-like life looks like. And one may say, it doesn’t matter how I dress or how I act on the outside, God looks at the heart. That’s very true, but men cannot see the heart so God has placed an awesome responsibility on me as a follower of Christ to allow them see an outward appearance that comes as a result of a transformed heart—by the Spirit’s power, of course. How then can I be ashamed?
How can I be ashamed of the crucified Christ when some are not ashamed of being gay? I cannot be ashamed of light when the world is not ashamed of darkness. How can I be ashamed of the awesome privilege placed on me to reflect the light? In the words of the Hymn writer Frances Ridley Havergal, he pleads “In all things have Thy way! I, the transparent medium. Thy glory to display.” I’ve been called to be a medium to display the glory of God to a sin sick world.
What does it mean, when an individual says that He is not ashamed of Jesus?
It means standing up for Jesus when it matters most. Standing up for the crucified Christ in the eyes of the world. Not just by an outward display of Jesus on a T-Shirt or a neck chain or a hand band. It means making taking a stand for what Christ would take a stand for in the eyes of the world, especially when it’s not popular. Because of the fact that “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29).
It means standing up for the Jesus of the cross even when you are alone, and nobody sees you. (Gen. 3:7,8). It was just the woman and the serpent when the first act of shame was committed, but she couldn’t stand up for Jesus. Being unashamed of Jesus means standing up for Jesus when it’s just you and whatever medium the tempter employs. It may be something that looks like Potiphar’s wife or maybe it’s the portion of the king’s meat or the wine which he drank. (see Gen. 39:8 & Dan. 1:8). It means standing up for Jesus even in the secret chambers.
And it also means, standing up for Jesus even in the church. The Jesus of the cross is unpopular in the church today. Shepherds are now ashamed to boldly declare any “Thus Says the Lord” that would offend the sheep. And Jesus commands the shepherds saying “If you love me, feed my sheep” (see John 21:15-17). When preachers are ashamed to do that which alone would make the sinner ask “What must I do to be saved?” How can the gay be ashamed of being gay? Or the thief ashamed of being a thief? Paul admonishes Timothy, a young minister, with these words “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:8). Because the world needs the testimony of the crucified Christ, else, they’ll not have the faintest idea that that which they do is shameful.
You know I have more respect for someone who boldly declares that he is living his life for the devil—say a terrorist—than for a two-faced Christian who cannot stand up for Jesus in the world, when alone or in the church.
Jesus intends that unashamed Christians and the unashamed church will be a light to the world, a model to the world of sin. The church needs to stand up, unashamed and preach the message of the Cross, for their own sake and for the sake of the unbeliever.
In examining the writings of Paul, one finds that he could be unashamed because nothing else mattered to Him in life except Christ. No, not worldly fame nor honour, nor friendship nor wealth. He lived his life with a single purpose, which is that he may win Christ. He writes “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8). I’ve been ashamed of Jesus. And I realize that it’s all because I didn’t really know that my life should be lived for a single purpose—pleasing God and God alone as exemplified by the life of Christ. He says “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38).
Jesus was not ashamed of doing the Father’s will all His life. And thus, he takes it seriously if anyone is ashamed of Him down here. Jesus said “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38). Jesus needs men who will not be ashamed of Him in this generation, and so does the world.
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”1 I want to be one of those men who dare to stand up for Jesus. I know this is possible because “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
I am proud of what Christ calls me. He says through Apostle Peter, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet. 2:9, 10). I was saved from the pit of hell, a lifestyle that would lead to death, how then can I be ashamed of living the new life?
 Ellen G. White, Education. Pg 57