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people of praise

Stand strong amid slander, societal pressure

Hartzell

My wife and I enjoy driving South to warm destinations close to the ocean. On our way we can’t help notice how the highway makes a path right through mountains. When you look up the sides of the mountain, you can see where holes were drilled and explosives were placed to remove part of the mountain in order to make room for the road. It amazes me how those explosives are powerful enough to rearrange an entire mountain.

In Romans 1:16 the Apostle Paul stated, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” The word “gospel” means “good news.” The good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save the world from sin and everlasting death in hell. As Romans 1:16 says, this salvation is available to everyone who believes. The word “power” comes from the Greek word “dunamis,” which is where we get the word “dynamite.” If you replace the word “dynamite” for “power” in that verse, it gives an idea to just how amazing the good news is. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the dynamite of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

What does dynamite do? In a positive sense, dynamite radically transforms things like the mountains that roads are made through. The good news of the salvation that Jesus Christ offers is so powerful that it permanently rearranges the lives of those who dare to believe it. Lives are changed. Marriages are saved. Relationships are mended. Hope is restored for a better future. Aspects of people’s lives that were once in ruin are now restored and changed for the better because of the power of the Gospel.

Paul stated that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. He could confidently attest to the power of the Gospel in his own life. Paul went from being a man who hunted down and killed Christians to being a man that believed the good news and was radically changed. He knew that because it worked in his life, it would work in the lives of others.

If you are a believer and confess to be a Christian, then I would like to ask you, are you ashamed of the Gospel? Are you ashamed of the things that Jesus has done for you? Do others around us that we associate with know that we are Christians or do we keep our faith a secret? Our society has made it increasingly more difficult for Christians to hold their heads high. Words like “homophobe,” “racist,” “bigot,” “extremist” and “hate-monger” are used to describe those of us who choose to stand for what the Bible teaches. When these or other forms of slander are leveled against us, will we continue to stand strong for what we know is right or will we cave in to societal pressures?

In Mark 8:38, Jesus gives this warning to his followers, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the son of man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his father’s glory with the holy angels.” We must stand strong in the face of opposition. Does this mean that we picket, cause bodily harm to those that disagree and commit civil disobedience? Not at all. Prayer is far more powerful than any of those methods.

I simply believe that we as Christians should stop feeling guilty for our beliefs and stop apologizing for our faith. Some of us may feel like or actually be the only believer in our work, or class, or home. Like the old song says, “Though none go with me, I still will follow. No turning back. No turning back.” The Christian’s life isn’t always easy, nor were we ever promised that it would be. However, it is worth it because we know how powerful of a transformation the good news of Jesus has been in our lives. Rather than hiding and being ashamed of it, let’s share that same good news with others in a loving way and expect the power of God to transform them.

Sean Hartzell is associate pastor at New Hope Christian Center in Waterloo. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.

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