Have you ever been embarrassed to divulge a friendship, share your family heritage, or admit your affiliation with a group? If you’re like the majority of people, you probably haven’t. Most of us speak favorably of our lineage and those we associate with, and are unwilling to allow anyone to diminish that pride. We tend to be intensely loyal to those who share our bloodlines, our memories, and our confidences.
You might think Jesus enjoyed such fidelity from His followers; that they spoke of Him in glowing terms. But surprisingly some expressed shame towards Him, unwilling to admit publically their relationship. In his gospel narrative the apostle John recounts this dichotomy. “Among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43, NKJV).
A few verses earlier John notes that although Jesus performed many signs the crowds did not believe in Him. In contrast, many in the ruling class believed Him but refused to express that belief openly for fear of the Pharisees. They didn’t want to sully their status or ruin their reputation because they cherished others’ approval more than Christ’s. So they concealed their faith in Jesus.
This may not seem like a big deal but Jesus addresses such inconsistency using stark and troubling language. “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38, NKJV). It is not enough to simply ‘believe’ in Jesus. He expects us to proudly proclaim Him and align ourselves with Him without compunction.
On a separate occasion Jesus declares, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33, NKJV).
With those powerful words as a backdrop, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you ashamed to confess Christ within your circle of friends?
- Do you withhold your faith from those at work for fear it will cost you a promotion, compromise your career, or yield ridicule from colleagues?
- Do you speak up for godliness and biblical standards when discussing cultural trends and pop culture with non-believers, or do you hold your tongue to avoid being labeled a religious radical?
- Do you share your faith with those around you even when they indicate hostility toward the name of Jesus?
If your answers reveal an embarrassment for Christ or your faith, ask yourself why. What’s keeping you from openly and enthusiastically sharing the good news of Jesus with the people God has brought into your life?
- Is it fear? Then take to heart this truth: “God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity but of power and boldness.”
- Is it a feeling of inadequacy? Then embrace this advice from Christ: “Do not worry what you will say in that day. The Spirit will guide you and give you the words to speak.”
- Is it because other priorities demand your silence? Then listen to this warning from Christ. “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
There are billions of people in the world today in desperate need of the Savior. But how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? (See Romans 10:15). They cannot unless we obey Jesus and fulfill the Great Commission by boldly teaching the message of Christ and unashamedly making disciples of others.
So let’s remember Jesus’ prescient message regarding the overwhelming spiritual needs that exist in the world today. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray that the Lord of the harvest sends out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38, NKJV).
As you go into this weekend ask the Lord for an opportunity to share your faith with someone: family, friend, or stranger. Then be alert for opportunities to appear. As you capitalize on them you’ll develop the habit of proudly proclaiming your faith to people around you and join the ranks of those laboring in the fields for the Lord. What an awesome honor.