Sunday our sweet daughter Ellie was baptized. If you asked her why, she will tell you in her precious 7-year-old voice that she loves Jesus, and He lives in her, and she wanted the whole world to know. Our church gave everyone who was baptized a shirt that said “Not ashamed.” Precious Ellie doesn’t understand that there would be a reason to be ashamed of professing that Christ is her Savior. But in the world we live in, there is.
Back in the days of the early church, the apostles faced severe persecution. They were scorned, mocked, beaten, even killed for preaching the Gospel and proudly proclaiming they were followers of Christ. I came across this verse earlier this week, and it stopped me in my tracks. In Acts 5, the apostles have just left the Sanhedrin, the governing body of the Jewish people, the scary bullies for lack of a better word who held all the religious power and authority. They were not happy Jesus’ name was being preached. Even more so they were FURIOUS that it was spreading like wild fire. After they arrested the apostles and ordered them not to speak anymore about Jesus, they were ready to kill them all. But the apostles were let off with a flogging. You would think maybe they would be a little down trodden, beaten down, ashamed. No… Acts 5:41-42 (NIV) says,
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
They were not ashamed of Jesus; in fact they counted it worth to suffer for Him and rejoice. What’s up with that? They had eternal perspective. When we look at the world through the lens of advancing the Kingdom, any persecution or hardship in the name of Jesus is worth it. In fact, it is an honor to suffer dishonor for Christ.
Right this very moment, there are those who are suffering as these apostles did, who are even giving their lives for Christ. For those of us not facing this kind of persecution, there may be times when it gets a little uncomfortable to live out our faith, a tad bit embarrassing to stand up for what we believe as Christians in this western culture, maybe even among our friends, family members, or co-workers. Will we be ashamed? Or will we remember that it is a privilege and walk away rejoicing because we bore His Name unashamed?
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of salvation for everyone who believes… Romans 1:16