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Unashamed

Choose a verse or short passage from Scripture that holds special meaning for you as you prepare to become a pastor or teacher. Share the importance of this verse to you, and how it will guide you in your future work. Be specific, personal, and practical in your application. 

What does it mean to be unashamed of Jesus Christ and his gospel message? Every Christian is familiar with Romans 1:16 as a popular verse with a message that appears to be relatively straightforward. The apostle Paul declares, “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” (Rom. 1:16). As a future teacher, it is my goal to reflect the meaning of this verse in my teaching. I seek to teach my students through my words and actions the importance of being unashamed of the Christian faith in both the highs and the lows of life. 

Although the sixteenth verse of Romans 1 is brief, it contains an essential lesson for Christians of all ages. It has always been a favorite of mine, and the impactful message is virtually unavoidable in my daily life. The words are highlighted in every Bible I have ever owned, embroidered on clothing worn by my closest friends, and even tattooed on my brother’s back. Paul’s message in this verse can and should be applied in the daily walk of any Christian, both young and old. This application begins with solid Christian instruction of teachers. 

A proper understanding of this verse begins with the initial context. In the book of Romans, Paul begins his exhortation to the church at Rome by stating that he is not ashamed of the word of God. This crucial self-analysis serves as a preface to any form of instruction or admonition toward the church. Thus, his words are given greater purpose as the foundation to the spiritual education of those around him, and he uses this platform to strengthen his teaching.  

Paul makes the bold declaration that he is unashamed while he is preaching God’s word in various parts of the world. He was undoubtedly accustomed to the concept of suffering or discomfort through his work as a preacher of God’s word. Nonetheless, Paul is more than enthusiastic about the prospect of sharing the faith. He knows that he is blessed with a calling for such a position, and he is more than willing to proclaim the gospel message wherever God leads him. 

The work of Paul is a direct representation of the message of Romans 1:16. It is very clear that Paul is not ashamed of what he believes or the Scripture that he teaches. He is given the gift of faith, and with this knowledge comes a renewed and godly fervor for the truth. In the simplest of terms, Paul knows the truth and has no intention of hiding it or keeping it to himself. Even in the face of fierce opposition from the unbelieving world, Paul boldly proclaims the gospel of Christ without shame.  

An important note in the study of Paul’s teaching is that Paul did not exclusively preach to eager, spiritually minded individuals who sought the truth. He faced persecution in the midst of the masses, including unbelievers who were not accustomed to the gospel message, or even those who blatantly contradicted God and his word. However, the Scriptures do not tell us that he was unashamed only in the face of opposition and unbelief. Quite the contrary; Paul was unashamed of the gospel message no matter who he was witnessing to or to whom he was giving a testimony of his faith, including those who were already introduced to God’s word and living their lives for Christ.   

What does this mean to me as a believer surrounded by my fellow Christian brothers and sisters? It is certainly easy to overlook the full message behind this verse of Scripture. Being unashamed of the gospel implies a readiness to profess one’s beliefs to others who may not agree, but it does not stop there. As a Protestant Reformed Christian living among fellow Christian believers, I have always faced the truths of this verse head-on in my church, my formal school education, and with my friends. I should be just as willing to share the gospel message with my Christian peers as I am with those who may not share my faith or any faith at all. This is an especially vital reminder for young people in our Christian high school system. They need to be shown the significance of this verse to understand how to interact with their Christian classmates in a God-fearing manner that reflects the truths of Scripture.  

A particular story comes to mind when I dwell on the deeper meaning of Romans 1:16. During my high school education, I began a job working with a very dear friend of mine, a girl who is also a faithful member of the Protestant Reformed denomination. Our occupation was not in a Christian setting; we did not have any other Reformed coworkers, and we experienced a lot of worldliness on a daily basis from other employees or the customers with whom we interacted.   

After one of our shifts, we decided to sit down and chat for a while, which eventually turned into an incredibly personal three-hour conversation about family and the importance of our faith. Shortly after, we headed to our cars and prepared to part ways. Much to my surprise, she proceeded to climb into the passenger seat of my car, and I was completely taken aback when she asked me to pray with her to properly bring the evening to a close.   

Admittedly, my initial thoughts were centered in prideful nervousness. I asked myself if this parking lot was the best place for this to happen, knowing that someone might see us, or she might judge me for the words that I might say. This was the point when something dawned on me. This beloved friend of mine was enthusiastically delighted at the chance to share this intimate moment of prayer with me in a random parking lot at 10:30 in the evening. She was unbothered by the potential opinions or judgment of anyone else, including me. Such a minor, seemingly insignificant moment was God’s way of reflecting the truths of Romans 1:16 in my own life through my friend’s eagerness. Her actions served as a beautiful example of the wisdom of Paul in being a Christian that is truly unashamed of the gospel. 

After this night, I found a completely new appreciation for the pure joy of living a life unashamed of God’s word. I have come to learn that being unashamed is not just about knowing what I believe without doubt. It is about having the opportunity to express that I love what I believe, and that Christ is the very reason for my existence. The fact that he loves me although I have done absolutely nothing to deserve any of it should make me ecstatic. I am aware that I am called to be respectful and reverent to others, not giving in to my own selfish pride, as I am one of Christ’s elect children. Nonetheless, I also have a calling to show joy, to rejoice and give thanks that I have been given such a title. All believers should be genuinely elated to know that we have knowledge of God’s word right at our fingertips through the gospel message of the Bible, and I have a responsibility as a teacher to instruct my students in this hope. 

We know that Paul certainly faced more than his share of criticism, mockery, and hatred. Even so, none of this stopped him from proclaiming to the world that he was a child of God. He stood strong in his beliefs and the faith that God had blessed him with, and he openly and boldly gave witness to the gospel. We should not be embarrassed of what other people will think of us, and we should not hide what we believe. We should not be afraid to converse with our fellow members in Christ about our faith, and we should not be afraid to pray openly with one another. There was a time in my life when I could not possibly imagine the idea of speaking about my faith to my friends because I feared that the conversation would be “too awkward” or “embarrassing.” If that were true, they are not truly friends. God places godly friends and family in our lives for purposes other than gossiping or playing fun games; the purpose is to grow together in our faith and point one another to Christ. I can only wish that I had realized the value of this truth at an earlier age, and this is a mistake that I strive to prevent by constantly reminding my students of Paul’s message in Romans 1:16. 

Although Paul lived a very different life in a very different time, his declaration has never lost its impact. To this day, Christians can be motivated and invigorated by his words. In my own life, this verse reminds me to be open and honest about what I believe. I need not be ashamed of the faith that God has given me. Much like Paul, I may be criticized, mocked, or even hated for what I believe, but God’s lovingkindness remains constant. I have no reason to feel shame from others because the knowledge of him and his word is so incredible! I am overjoyed with the prospect of sharing this understanding with students of my own so they can feel the same comfort and reassurance that I receive from these powerful words. 

God gives us an amazing gift called grace: undeserved love. He does not bless us with grace and faith in him so that we may sit idly by or arrogantly boast to those around us. He utilizes men like Paul to instruct believers to share with one another the gospel message. We should be overjoyed at all times with the wonderful knowledge that God sent his only begotten Son for us as unworthy and undeserving sinners. He washes away our sins and makes us white as snow, so much so that we can be seen as beautiful and perfect in his eyes! We are no better than anyone else; we did nothing to earn this gift, but what a phenomenal gift it is!  

With this verse, I am reminded of one simple truth: do not be ashamed of Christ or what he has done for you. Rejoice with one another! We have been redeemed, and we have been saved by Christ’s blood. Every member of the body of Christ—no matter whether they are a teacher or a student—can learn from Paul’s passionate zeal for the gospel in Romans 1:16 that we must never be ashamed of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

 

Olivia is a member of Grace Protestant Reformed Church and is in the English secondary education program at Baker College.