Not Ashamed

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel”
(Romans 1:16).

When Martin Luther arrived in Rome, the city of the seven hills, he fell on his knees, filled with emotion. Then, raising his hands to heaven, he said: “Holy Rome, I salute thee!” The one who would later become the great reformer did this because indulgences were promised to all who climbed “Pilate’s staircase” on their knees. Tradition stated that it was the same staircase that our Savior had stepped on as he left the Roman court, and the steps had been moved from Jerusalem to Rome in a miraculous way.

However, while Luther was devotedly climbing those steps, he remembered the word written by Paul in Romans 1:17: “The just shall live by faith.” The words reverberated like thunder in his soul.

He quickly stood up and fled filled with shame. From that moment on he began to see clearly the deceit of trusting in works and human merits for salvation, and how indespensable it is to exercise constant faith in the merits of Christ. Luther was ashamed because the gospel had been completely distorted.

Nevertheless, on the other hand, Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). The Jews considered Paul to be a traitor, the scum of the earth, and an outcast of society. His preaching about the cross was insanity to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews
(1 Cor. 1:23); but Paul had experienced the good news in his own life, which had been forgiven and transformed. This gospel was cause of glory.

What does shame imply? It is the feeling of loss of dignity caused by a mistake that is made or by insult or humiliation that is received. It is a feeling or discomfort produced by fear of doing something ridiculous; it is a feeling that paralyzes action.

Everyone was ashamed of the cross: it was an insanity, and embarrasment, an insult, a humiliation. They were waiting for a Messiah that would deliver them from the Roman yoke, not One who would die on a wooden cross. Paul feels honored for the undeserved call from God; that is why he is not bothered by indefference, hate, prejudice, or abuse. He does not care that they link him to that “deceiver” (Matt. 27:63), rejected by the Jewish religion, negated by Greek culture, and crucified under Roman law. He knows that Christ and the gospel transfomed his life. That is why not only is he not ashamed but feels honor and proclaims it boldly. Paul had been a prisoner in Philippi, thrown out of Berea, mocked in Athens, considered insane in Corinth, stoned in Lystra, and despite all this, wanted to go and preach in Rome.

When everyone mocks or denies the truth, it is hard to take a step forward and say, “that is my Christ” and “that is my gospel.”

How willing are we, like Luther and Paul, to align ourselves
and make a commitment – before everyone and everything –
for that gospel which transforms our lives?

God bless you, let us be bold!