14
Feb
10

Unashamed

Listening to David Asscherick’s sermon, Unashamed of the Crucified Christ, I came away with the strong feeling I needed to consider this aspect of Christ more fully. Now, being sufficiently distanced from the shame of the cross, it is easy to only see the crucifixion in light of the noble deed of sacrifice, without considering the ignominy and embarrassment that was attached to such a death at the time. Truly to preach the cross must have seemed foolishness to the world. But what is that to us today who are so far divorced from the connotations of such a death?

As I considered the shame of the cross more it almost seemed negligent for Christ to allow his mission to be accomplished in such an offensive manner. Surely many must have turned a deaf ear to the message at hearing of the nature of his death. Couldn’t he have fulfilled his purpose in a way that would have made it easier for men to accept him?

Not only has Christ allowed his great sacrifice to be besmirched with a cursed death, but he has allowed his very name to be defiled through the practices of those who claim it. No doubt an obstacle in accepting Christ, as many have thought one must be irrational, ignorant, unintelligent and bigoted in order to follow Christ. And at times I have thought it my duty to compensate for this.

I recently met someone who felt the same way. In his opinion, it was wrong and against God’s will to ever speak the name of Christ in witnessing. People would find this too hard to accept if we attributed anything in our message or our life to Christ. We could present ideas, or paraphrase verses, but never should we frighten them away with the hint of religion. At the time I could see how wrong he was. Yet now I see I have often approached spreading the gospel in the same way.

Every time I extol the virtues of the health message in hopes of winning people to the scientific strength of the idea, waiting to reveal the Author of such wisdom until after they have been won to the wisdom without the Author, I reveal my shame (see 6T 327.3). Each time I focus more on being social to win influence to myself that can be used for Christ, afraid that seriousness and commitment will scare people away, I am ashamed. The question I must answer is if I never speak Christ’s name, nor give him the credit, how will people ever be led to him?

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:14 The health message, principles of love, repaying evil with good, are all beneficial; but to what end if they do not lead to the way, the truth, and the life? To lead half way is to lead to sin and death. “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

So why has this become so common? We have become shy, perhaps through failed attempts as people reject our faith out of hand. Or perhaps because we know what we think of those who say “Lord, Lord” and don’t want to run the risk of being associated with them, even if it means not being associated with Christ.

But as with the cross, Christ was never shy of presenting a tough message. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” John 6:53,66

The truth is many will reject the gospel. The disciples were often imprisoned for it. And we may isolate ourselves from others in speaking the truth. But God can still use this. It was from the prison that Paul & Silas were used to convert the jailer.

“God’s servants receive no honor or recognition from the world. Stephen was stoned because he preached Christ and Him crucified. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and finally put to death, because he was a faithful messenger of God to the Gentiles. The apostle John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” [Revelation 1:9.] These examples of human steadfastness in the might of divine power, are a witness to the world of the faithfulness of God’s promises, of His abiding presence and sustaining grace.” {GW 18.1}

Even at a worldly level, we have to admit that such fervent commitment, even to a foolish cause, makes it as attractive as sheepishly hiding and avoiding Christ makes him seem unattractive. And we can take heart that not all will reject the message. We have the living evidence before us today that the witness given in Bible times did not fall on deaf ears. Like David, we too can praise God in the midst of idols and idolaters. We can extol his virtues, and reveal his true character that has been hidden and defamed. We can tell of how he has helped us in our time of need, lifting us out of the depths of sin, depression, self-destruction, and death. As a result, we can see even the most sophisticated won to Christ.

I will praise thee with my whole heart:

before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

I will worship toward thy holy temple,

and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth:

for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me,

and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.

All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord,

when they hear the words of thy mouth.

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord:

for great is the glory of the Lord.

– Psalm 138:1-5

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