Published June 17, 2014

Paul's Epistle...

Are you ashamed of Christ? Are you ashamed of being known as a Christian? Are you too ashamed to take a public stand for Godly values in an increasingly hedonistic and anti-Christian society?

I hope you are not ashamed of Christ and His truths. But, increasingly, many self-identified Christians are. They're too afraid of what a "politically correct" society will think about someone who actually believes the truths that the Bible, God's Word, clearly teaches.

If you heard last weekend's broadcast, you heard our visit with Brian Free & Assurance, featuring their new CD entitled "Unashamed." That theme – being unashamed to stand up as a Christian – runs through a majority of the songs on the recording. But it is, unfortunately, a message that's never been needed more.

Brian puts it this way: "I just think we live in a time now ... that we as Christians need to make sure that, number one, we are unashamed of being who we are — of being Christians. In a world that tends more every day to ridicule, mock, make fun of, belittle the Christian, we need to stand even taller and firmer and stand on the Word of God and let them know that we have the answer. And the answer is not anything this world has to offer. And that's what [our recording] is talking about. Every song on it is lyrically straightforward, letting people know how we stand as Christians in this group and how we will always proclaim the message without any compromise..."

It's a message, Brian says, that is urgently needed: "A lot of the things that we face in the world today and that we've had here in our country, in America, is because a lot of us Christians have failed to stand up against what was wrong and stand up for what's right. We let things go by and basically been spineless Christians for way too long and we can't reach the world if we are wishy-washy on our message, not real sure about it ourselves — not too sure what we believe in. We better understand and know what we believe in, know what the Word of God says."

In fact, Brian says that's the very basic antidote to the problem: "We need to read the Word of God more. We need to fill our minds with the Word of God as much as possible. I'm guilty of not doing it as much as I should, as much as anybody out there. But ... that's what prepares us for what we face on a daily basis, whether it be small things or large things... And the only way that we can know how to play this game is to read the rule book. And the rule book is the Word of God. It prepares us for anything we face in life..."

The Apostle Paul was concerned about the same problem — so-called Christians (even pastors) who, in one way or another, would be ashamed of Christ. He said that he hoped "that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness ... [that] Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death" (Philippians 1:20). He told Timothy, "...Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord..." (2 Timothy 1:8). And in perhaps his most to-the-point writing, Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." (Romans 1:16).

So... How does one stand up for Christ in this society?

18-year-old Brooks Hamby found a way. A week ago he was notified that he was his graduating class' salutatorian in the Brawley Union School District in Brawley, California. He was told to prepare his speech and turn it in by last Wednesday. He did that. But it was rejected. The reason? He wrote it in the form of a prayer. He was told to rewrite it. He did. Again, he got it back with every religious reference obliterated by a bold felt marker. It looked like one of those heavily-redacted secret government documents.

Last Thursday morning, Brooks and his parents were called to the principal's office. They were sternly warned that if the young man "interjects religious content, the sound will be cut off and a disclaimer to the entire audience must be made explaining the district's position" that the speech is "inappropriate" and violated "prevailing legal standards."

Brooks decided to consult with his pastor. They prayed. Brooks made a third draft. It, too, was rejected. So he wrote a fourth version and emailed it to the superintendent for approval. He never heard back – and it was time for his speech.

The Desert Review newspaper reported Brooks' words: "In simply coming before you today, I presented three drafts of my speech – all of them denied on account of my desire to share my personal thoughts and inspiration to you in my Christian faith... In life, you will be told ‘no.' In life, you will be asked to do things that you have no desire to do. In life, you will be asked to do things that violate your conscience and your desire to do what is right."

Brooks told his classmates, "No man or woman has ever truly succeeded or been fulfilled on the account of living for others and not standing on what they knew in their heart was right or good." Quoting from Matthew 5:13, he said, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." Looking squarely at his fellow students, he added, "Be the salt of the earth, be strong and stand for your convictions and do what is right, ethical, moral and Godly, no matter the cost to you."

Miraculously, Brooks managed to deliver his entire speech. The sound was not cut off. Fellow students responded with thundering applause. And, so far as has been reported, no disciplinary action has been taken. But, quite obviously, Brooks was not ashamed of being a Christian – even though he stood to lose a great deal. And his stand for Christ, unintentionally, has once again called national attention to the anti-Christ attitude of today's public schools and government.

Would you do what Brooks Hamby did? Would you be so unashamed of the Gospel as to be so bold?

For those who might be ashamed of Christ, the most ominous warning comes from Christ Himself: "For 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).

"Ashamed of Christ" is a label you don't want to wear. You can't afford to wear it. How can you show today that you are unashamed of Him?

- Paul

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