My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
The book of Philippians is frequently referred to as “The Book of Joy.” This comes off a little counterintuitive because this “book” is actually a letter written by Paul to the people of Philippi while he is in prison. Prison! Paul’s imprisonment required that he be chained to a Roman guard for most of his stay. I can assure you that if I were 1) in prison and 2) chained to a super scary guard, I would be a lot less than joyful. Yet, here’s Paul, making the best of a crappy situation and sharing the gospel with the men he sees on a daily basis.
I can’t relate to Paul in the prison bit (thank you God!), but I can relate to him in the feeling of not being where I want to be. Paul would have much rather been in Philippi helping the people there spread the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. But, he’s stuck in jail. I would much rather be in San Salvador sharing the Good News of Jesus, but I’m stuck in Ohio. And here’s where Paul and I really differ: Paul is unabashedly courageous in sharing the gospel with those he is with in prison. He writes that the gospel “has become known throughout the whole imperial guard…”¹ Sure, a Roman prison was not where he thought he would be preaching the gospel, but it’s where God put him for the moment.
Sharing the gospel has recently become something I reserved for the mission field of San Salvador. Thoughts fill my head shouting,
- People won’t judge you in San Salvador! You’re a missionary! You’re supposed to preach the gospel!
- So many people in San Salvador haven’t heard the true gospel, so they won’t be able to argue with you about it!
- You’ll have some time before you start sharing the gospel because you won’t be fluent in Spanish yet, so you’ll have time to prepare yourself!
While some of these things may be true, none of them exempt me from sharing the gospel right where I am, in Columbus, Ohio. So often I am actually ashamed of sharing the gospel because I am afraid of what people might think of me, what stereotypes they might label me with and that I might not be able to argue logic with faith. But then I think of the story in the book of Mark² in which four men carry their paralyzed friend on a mat to the home where Jesus was teaching. Realizing there were too many people to get in the front door, they carried this man onto the roof, dug a hole in the roof and gently lowered him down, in front of Jesus’ feet. I am seriously summarizing what happened here, but the point is that they went to serious trouble to get their friend to Jesus. They saw that it would not be easy, but carried on anyways. They knew he had to get to Jesus. These guys did all that, and I’m scared to simply tell some of my closest friends about Jesus and how he saved my life?
And I call myself a missionary…
Paul’s words have become my heartfelt plea before God: Do not allow me to be ashamed about anything, but with boldness, allow my words, my LIFE be honoring to You, Lord! There is no condemnation³, no disapproval from You! Shame comes directly from the pit of Hell and the evil one uses it to pull me away from You. But because Your grace covers my shame, I will not be ashamed. I will not be embarrassed. Rather, I will be convicted, and in this conviction, praise Your Holy Name and share Your Holy Word.
¹ Philippians 1v13
² Mark 2v1-4
³ Romans 8v1