Saturday, January 17, 2015

Matters of Taste 3 / The Gospel

Romans 1:16

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Greeks."

Says St. Paul. 

St. Paul would know.  He became an outcast from his own community of the righteous and scholarly by becoming a follower of Christ.  He was laughed off the Areopagus, though he could have out-argued and out-philosophized all the Greeks who loved to stand around and argue ideas all day long.   He was stoned, lashed, shipwrecked, beheaded.

He counted it gain. But it cost him a lot. 

When I was an adolescent I was confirmed in the faith in Germany, and this was the verse the pastor chose for me.  It is a verse that is given out often, and several of my god-children have this one, too, to treasure as their confirmation verse.  May they always stand firm in it. 

It did fit me then--I felt shy and the gospel demanded from me a fortitude that I did not feel I possessed. -- It fits me still, because the world will never cease making fun of the gospel, nor stop persecuting believers. So, this bit of help to rise to the occasions we are presented with here, is always relevant.

The "shame" comes for a number of reasons, when we are tempted.  It comes because there are reasons why some people want to make you feel ashamed, and try very, very hard to make you look or feel this way.  These reasons often have to do with their own shortcomings and perceptions of reality.  There are factors such as a perceived physical or intellectual lack of beauty (see last post).  There are costs.  There are friendships lost and gained.

I am grateful for St. Paul.  We are deeply indebted to him.  He was not ashamed, and we shall not be ashamed.

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