Guardians Of The Gospel
Topic: Perseverance Passage: 2 Timothy 1:8–2:7
From guest speaker, Alex Kirk:
I want to begin this morning with a confession. As I studied this text this week I realized that I have often let shame keep me from clearly explaining the gospel and from talking about the work that Christ has done in my life. Meghan and I have been living in Toronto for the past year and a half, and Toronto, is an incredibly diverse and incredibly secular place. I am not holding that against it (Jon 4:1), but for me it was often a bit of a culture shock. I can’t tell you how many times we got blank stares when we told people we were Christians or we told people we went to church. We often got asked, “So what are you—religious?” Slowly but surely, the values of the place—the high-end clothes, body image obsession, exotic restaurants—all start to seep into you, and pretty soon you are rating yourself by the number and intensity of new experiences you’ve had, or your knowledge and depth of engagement with the pop culture of the moment. What this meant for me is that I began to grow ashamed of confessing that I had been a pastor, that I was in grad school studying Bible, that we were Christians who went to church every week. I didn’t feel like any of those things caused my stock to rise in the eyes of the city. None of these things got me any honor or prestige. What is more, in the face of relentless news stories about LGBT equality and religious violence, I began to feel ashamed to talk about what I believed the Bible teaches. It all just sounded so crazy. I found myself desperate to avoid any conversation that headed toward religion, hot button political topics, or my Christian beliefs. I was terrified that I would be exposed and people would think less of me; they would find me backward, ignorant— or worse—boring. I realize now I had become ashamed of the gospel.
I share this confession in part because I believe that many of you will resonate with my experience. Isn’t this our tendency—to be ashamed of the gospel, abandon our posts, and avoid suffering? This tendency in our hearts presents a massive danger for the Church and the gospel—if we all abandon our posts because of shame and the fear of suffering, there will be nothing left and massive damage will come to the world, the Church, our communities, and our own souls. We must not be ashamed to suffer in order to guard the gospel.