I could tell you that I’ve lived my whole life unashamed of the Gospel. I could tell you that I’ve never denied the Lord Jesus, that I’ve never rejected His Name. I could tell you that I’ve always proclaimed that I’m a Christian, that I’ve never been shy about it in the least bit. I could tell you a lot of things…but they would all be lies. And if you’re honest with yourself, the same is probably true for you…
I remember not one, not two, but several instances during my college years in which I did not stand up for the faith. Honestly, I think those moments will stick with me forever…sometimes they just replay over and over again in my mind. It’s like an out-of-body experience during which I’m watching myself yield to the pressures of society and college life. When those moments get replayed in my head, a huge weight settles over my heart… How could I have ever sat silently in the midst of the blaspheming of my Savior? How could I have allowed people to mock my faith, to mock my Jesus – the same Jesus who suffered and bled for them? So many questions, so many regrets. But at the end of the day, all I can do is press forward and look ahead.
Let me share one of these experiences with you. When I was at A&M, I was in an a cappella group called Swaram (you should totes check them out by the way). It was a big part of my A&M life and I spent a lot of time with my fellow a cappella-ers. So when I transferred home to UH, I tried to visit A&M for every Swaram event that I could. I decided to visit for one of their spring concerts which was being hosted at a church. I got there a little late, so I ended up sitting in the back, away from all my friends. Fast forward to the end of the show: I was enjoying seeing old friends and catching up with people when a couple of my close girlfriends came up to me with a piece of paper in hand. It was one of those prayer request cards that you can put in a box at the back of the church. My friends, who were not Christians, had filled the whole thing out with…less than appropriate answers. The conversation went like this:
Girl 1: Reba! Look what we wrote on this little church paper. It’s so funny!
Girl 2: Um…maybe we shouldn’t show her. She might get offended…not only are we in a church…but she’s Christian.
Girl 1: What? No way! Reba’s cool, she doesn’t care about stuff like that! She knows we’re just joking around. Show her!
And so they read their musings out loud to me…in front of everyone. And although I wasn’t in the best place with God at that time in my life, I 100% knew that the things they were saying about my faith were not okay. I 100% knew their mocking of my Jesus was not okay. But how did I respond in the midst of all the laughter as all those eyes looked on? I can’t even believe I’m typing this out right now…I laughed. I flipped my hand like it was NBD (no big deal). And as I laughed and waved my hand so nonchalantly, my stomach began to twist and I could feel a pit forming in the center of my heart. I said nothing. Not one word to tell my friends how their words really and truly hurt my heart. Well that little piece of paper was placed into the box at the back of the church. And I can’t imagine how much it must have hurt the heart of the brother or sister who read those words.
We do a lot of things for the sake of our name. Likewise, we refrain from doing a lot of things for the sake of our name. The sad truth at the end of the day is this: we have no name. We have nothing to our name. So doing something for the sake of ourselves doesn’t even make sense, because we are nothing. And nothing will change the fact that we are nothing. Instead of doing/not doing things for our own sake, we should be acting for the sake of the name of Jesus! He is everything! And nothing will ever change the fact that He is and will always be, EVERYTHING.
HIS is the name we cling to. HIS is the name that makes us holy. HIS is the name that washes away our sins. HIS is the name that redeems us. HIS is the name we should be honoring.
When I made the decision to CONFORM to the world on that day, it hurt my heart. Because I knew it was wrong. I knew God wanted me to speak with boldness for the glory of His name in that moment and I shut Him down. I tried not to give the situation a second thought, but I couldn’t shake it. Even now, when I think back to it, waves of shame and guilt rush over me.
My Jesus was never ashamed of me – He never IS ashamed of me. He never mocks me or rejects me. He is never disgusted by my rotten heart, by the stench of my flesh. Rather, He embraces me, He holds me to Himself, He sings over me with joy, and He makes it abundantly clear to the world that I AM HIS. And that nothing I do could ever repulse Him enough to stay away from me. He doesn’t care how the world labels me. He doesn’t care what society thinks of me. He loves me and He is never ashamed of me.
So if HE is able to look past all the dirt and grime of my past, if HE is able to unashamedly love me despite the fact that I am nothing but an adulteress, a whoring woman who is constantly glancing back over her shoulder at the world He wants her to leave behind, if HE can love me despite this and be unashamed of me through this, then WHY on earth can I not speak His truth to those around me? There is nothing disgusting, repulsive, shameful, or sinful in my Jesus. So really, I have no cause to be ashamed of Him. On the contrary, He has ALL cause to be ashamed of me, to demand that I never use His name in public so that no one associates me with Him. But that’s not what He does. No, He proclaims His love for me in the most public of ways: nailed to a tree, with a mocking sign above His head, as blood and sweat dripped from every pore in His body.
I knew all this to be true. And yet, I did not speak a single word in the defense of my faith, for the sake of the name of my Jesus. I failed to make use of this beautiful opportunity. I had the chance not only to proclaim my love for the Lord and His love for me, but to share my faith with all my Hindu and Muslim friends surrounding me. I had an opportunity to show them that I wasn’t just another hypocrite. My inaction, my fear, my DESIRE to be liked by people ultimately proved to them that I was just another nominal Christian. My desire to be liked by people outweighed my desire to honor the Lord.
What shame and disgrace I brought to His name that day. How much it must have hurt His heart to watch as I laughed at their mocking words, as I faked apathy at their blaspheming of my God. A wrenching feeling overwhelms my heart when I consider how the Lord must have felt as He watched me that night. But instead of abandoning me, instead of giving me over to death and destruction, drops of mercy fell upon my face and grace was poured out upon my head.
Not only did He NOT abandon me, not only did He forgive me, but He pursued me with a greater passion, He chased my heart all the more.
Even with this incident tacked on to the list of all the reasons why the Lord should be repulsed by me, He still loves me, He is still unashamed to call me His daughter.
We are on this earth for one reason. And just to be clear, that reason has absolutely nothing to do with us, and everything to do with the Lord Jesus. We are here to proclaim His name, to glorify His name, to honor His name. May we be bold in the faith, may we never shy away from sharing this Hope we have in Him. May we never conform to this world or to what society expects of us. Rather, may we be eternally transformed so that we may in turn, be vessels of grace used to transform the hearts of others for His glory.
Do not be
conformedto this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…
The gospel, the cross, the good news for the lost
The blood that spilled down Calvary’s Hill
For what Your grace did and what Your grace does
Oh I am unashamed of Your name, Jesus
Unashamed of You | Chris August