I vividly remember one of my last conversations with one of my high school golfing buddies, even though it occurred fifty years ago. We had finished putting on the par three seventeenth hole and waiting to tee off on the eighteenth. We had been talking about meaningful lyrics in some of our favorite songs. One of them hinted at believing in life beyond death. I had been praying for an opportunity to share my faith with this friend, and God served me up with the perfect moment.
I shared my faith and why I hoped he would join me as a follower of Jesus. He knew I was a believer, and he was one of my few unbelieving friends who respected my belief. I invited him to confess Jesus as Lord and let me baptize him. He looked at me intensely and responded:
A few months later, folks in my first-period typing class wondered why I was struggling to hold back tears. Some were kind. Others razzed me pretty hard. Then the school-wide PA system came on with the sad news that a few of us already knew. The unknown voice announced that my friend had been killed in a motorcycle wreck the night before. I grieved for the loss of my friend and buddy. I grieved even more deeply because he had the opportunity to know and follow Jesus but turned it down. I also learned the truth about urgency. When people indicate they are open to talking about Jesus, I had better take the opportunity. There might not be another one.
As followers of Jesus who were given Jesus' Great Commission to take his good news to the world, we must learn to be graciously bold with the message of Jesus. We must be bold yet gentle and respectful (1 Peter 3:15-16!) We must be bold and unashamed of the gospel of Jesus just as the early disciples were (Acts 4:23-31, 5:41-42).
As our world culture, especially western culture, grows decidedly more secular, hedonistic, and cynical about faith, believers need to re-read the book of Acts and pray for opportunities to share their faith and the boldness to do it. We must not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
Our theme for this week's ToGather is "Not Ashamed!" Our Verse of the Day is Romans 1:16:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
Demetrius' songs for this week in the full worship video and Phil's message emphasized the importance and urgency of sharing the message of Christ and the things that are central to that message. We hope you are blessed by our worship experience in ToGather and Phil's message!
Paul was not ashamed of Jesus, nor was he ashamed of Jesus' message.
In his video message, Phil focused on five key eternity-shaping words from Romans 1:16:
These powerful words emphasize the importance and power of the gospel of Christ. Paul backed up these words and his commitment to be unashamed of the gospel with his life. He was willing to be beaten, imprisoned, and eventually martyred because of his courage and faithfulness to the good news message of Jesus (Acts 20:24; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Phil also reminded us that while there are many different Christian groups and practices, Paul told us clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 four things that are of "first importance" in the gospel for all of us:
- Christ died for our sins.
- He was buried.
- He was raised on the third day.
- He appeared to many people who could testify to his resurrection. Among them were Cephas (Peter), the Twelve (the apostles), five hundred at one time, James, and Paul.
As Paul said, this is the gospel by which we are saved!
We pray that the Holy Spirit will fill you, move you, empower you, and inspire you to be graciously bold as you share Jesus with those around you!