15I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Paul is a prolific writer when it comes to the New Testament. (He wrote 11 of the 27 New Testament books – 12 if you count Hebrews – an idea that is still up for debate among biblical scholars.) Inside of all those letters there are several verses that reverberate around the world and we can easily recite by heart because we have heard them so many time. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” is just one of those faith statements that stick with us. After I get over my delight in the word “power” in this verse (our word for dynamite has its beginnings in this word – another whole study that you can access in the post from July 28 of this year) I am drawn to the word “unashamed” and that leads to a meditation on just what it means to be unashamed.
We are all acquainted with the concept of shame. The person among us who says they don’t know shame is lying. We’ve all done things for which we feel shame. This is an appropriate emotion that hopefully leads to repentance for something we done wrong. But in our reading for today, Paul claims that when it comes to the Gospel, he is unashamed. There are no apologies to make when it comes to the declaration of God’s saving work through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not a single “I’m sorry” is to be uttered.
And here is where we have to examine our own witness and the the attempts have been made to cause us to feel ashamed of our faith in the culture that surrounds us. In our world of “tolerance” attempts are made daily to make us feel shame for our support of godly values and morality. Those who live the Gospel out loud are regularly chastised for that out-spoken lifestyle. Since having faith and sharing faith are still legal in the U.S. another approach to silencing us has been taken and it is the use of shame. I’m fairly certain that Paul was exposed to the same type of treatment in ancient Rome as it evidenced by the fact that eventually he is beheaded for his beliefs and unwillingness to recant them. But here, he boldly claims that he is unashamed – no matter what. The words he speaks bring life to those who would believe. It was true for Paul and it’s true for us as well. This is a powerful verse for all Christians and if you can’t recite it from memory perhaps that would be a worthy meditation for today.