I Am Not Ashamed Of . . . What Exactly?
Jesus Christ warned us,
“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).
And of course, we all know very well the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16,
“I am not ashamed of the gospel . . .”
But how can we tell whether or not we are ashamed?
Well, what about shame that is not seen outwardly, but finds a seat in a believer’s heart? When we hear some Christians saying there must be some way for Jewish people to be saved other than faith in Jesus, how do we feel about saying He is the only way? Are we embarrassed to say what the Scriptures teach because it is not popular?
Any of us Jews for Jesus missionaries can be somewhat brave during an evangelistic outreach. And many believers who see what we do consider us brave people. Nevertheless, we sometimes struggle just like anyone else.
Here is what I mean. About ten years ago, when I would go on sorties (tract-passing expeditions) in Kharkov, I always explained what my pamphlets were about as I handed them out. I’d say, “This is about Jesus Christ,” because otherwise people might confuse me with those who distribute ads! But there came a moment during a sortie when I realized that if I didn’t keep saying what my pamphlets were about, I could hand out more. For instance, instead of handing out 750, I could hand out about 1,000 broadsides. What to do? Speak up, or be silent about Jesus? I had to conclude that under those circumstances, 750 were a better result than 1,000.
Similarly, we look forward to personal interactions with Jewish people in one-on-one visits. But still, Jesus is a very sensitive topic with our people. I know that I can keep the conversation calmer when I only talk about God, because this is more comfortable for most Jewish people than hearing the name Jesus. But isn’t hesitation to name His name the very shame that the Apostle Paul spoke about?
Even missionaries must check to see that we are being consistent. I will never forget the time I finished a sortie in an open market and needed to stay to purchase some food for my family. I didn’t particularly want my bright yellow Jews for Jesus T-shirt to call attention to me and perhaps become a distraction from my shopping. So I took it off, turned it inside out and put it back on. But the letters were still visible through my T-shirt. An elderly woman who was able to read them proclaimed loudly, “Oh! He’s ashamed! He is for Jesus, but he’s ashamed!” What a lesson I learned that day!
Yes, everyone looks at us when we wear Jews for Jesus T-shirts. But in fact, they are staring at the name of Jesus. If we are ashamed, it means that Jesus is not really such an important person to us. If we are firmly “for Jesus,” maybe other people who see will understand that they also need to be for Jesus. So now I say, let them look at our T-shirts even when the sortie is done! Even if some people will humiliate us, Messiah Jesus was humiliated first, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3).