Tuesday 18th July 2023

Tuesday, 18 July 2023
 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’

Reflection

Shame is a powerful emotion. In recent times there has been a great deal written about various sorts of shaming – ‘body-shaming’ being just one example. It might not be called ‘faith-shaming’, but there are plenty of ways in which parts of the media try to belittle believers. The judgement of faith groups which assume that all people of faith are extremists is one sign of this, and dismissive references to people believing in ‘sky-fairies’ isn’t uncommon when you read the comments on Twitter.

Guilt and shame are sometimes used interchangeably, or assumed to belong together. However, guilt is a response to doing something wrong (or thinking that we have). It is associated with specific action, or inaction. Guilt is about ‘doing’, shame is about ‘being’. Shame is associated with disgrace or personal humiliation – it’s about who we are.

Paul writes “I am not ashamed…”. After greeting the church, and giving thanks for them, he talks about his eagerness to proclaim the gospel, good news which he is confident of, and feels no shame in sharing with all and sundry, despite the danger this puts him in.

In much of the church in the UK today this confidence isn’t always reflected. We worry about embarrassing other people if we talk about Jesus, but is it really ourselves that are embarrassed? We say we don’t want to force our faith on people, but in reality we don’t even offer it as an option. We’re worried that we don’t have all the answers, and forget that even Paul didn’t get everything right. If we put off sharing our faith until we’ve reached perfect understanding and behaviour, we’re never going to speak out. And if we don’t share the good news, how will others come to faith?

Prayer

Loving God,
in Jesus you took on our guilt and our shame.
Help us to be confident in you;
to know that we are loved by you;
to live and speak out in the light of that love.
May we never be ashamed 
of the good news of Jesus.  Amen

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Clare Downing, Transitional Synod Moderator, North Western Synod

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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