So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 1:15-16
Have you ever been afraid of “sticking out like a sore thumb?” Several years ago, I had the privilege of participating as a groomsman in my brother’s wedding in New York City. His bride was an immigrant from the Philippines, so their ceremony took on a decidedly international flavor, with the wedding party (which included my wife, son, sister, and parents) regaled in traditional, brightly colored Filipino garb. After the wedding, our family had to walk several blocks back to our hotel through the perpetually crowded Times Square. I felt an old fear rising within me: “Won’t everyone stare at me in my unusual get-up?!” Fortunately, it being New York, the sight of a half-dozen western Americans in Asian garb wasn’t bizarre enough to garner even a second glance.
There is a deep fear inside most (if not all) of us of being the object of stares, pointed fingers, and hushed whispers. We all have a desire to mesh and meld with the background, to feel comfortable in our own skins. Paul’s introduction to Romans addresses this old fear of “sticking-out” as it pertains to the Christian faith: won’t lost people point, stare, ridicule? Yes, they will, but Paul shows us that the Gospel should lead us to be “not ashamed.” Why? Because it is a message that brings salvation to everyone: all races, origins, and ethnic groups.
Today I’m aiming to release my fear of what others might think about my faith-informed choices. Let them stare at my unorthodox get-up: I’m not ashamed. Will you join me and stick-out as one of God’s “sore thumbs”?
The Firehouse Church
One-Year Bible Reading