In his epistles, St. Paul frequently talks about how Christians should never feel shame when we consider the salvation and kingdom of Jesus Christ. In Romans 1:16, he tells us that he is not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation to everyone who believes. In 2 Corinthians, he states how he is not ashamed to boast of the authority Christ has given him as an apostle. And here in 2 Timothy, he urges the young pastor not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, even though that testimony has made an embarrassing spectacle of Paul himself, placing him in prison and surrounding him with humiliation and persecution.
And perhaps that last statement from Paul about not being ashamed helps us understand what he’s getting at in all of this. Those who believe the Gospel will not always be clothed with glory and honor in this life. Very often, and perhaps more often than not, they’ll be drenched in the foul persecutions and rejections of this world. Christians will be told that we’re fools for believing that we can’t make ourselves worthy of eternal life. We’ll be called crazy for believing that the blood of some Jewish man can somehow give us peace with God.
Likewise, when the world sees us turning the other cheek, when the world sees us pouring out forgiveness on those who despise and mistreat us, the world will mistake our mercy for weakness, as it did to Christ before us, and pour out persecution upon us. Christians will be imprisoned, martyred, shoved into both physical and societal ghettos. We’ll be marginalized and mocked, year after year, generation after generation. We’ll be covered in the shameful dross of this world.
And yet we can stand unashamed because we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ who will show us the fulness of that radiant garment on the day of His return. Though we may be locked in a prison of shame, we belong to the One who has already sworn to tear down every prison of this world and deliver us into His kingdom. Let the world mock and hate us with the tongues that will all be silenced on the day when Jesus welcomes us into the holy city where the tongues of angels will not stop singing His love for us. Let the world scream that we should be embarrassed to cling to the name of Christ. We are not ashamed, and we never need be because the Lord who died for our sins and rose for our justification has given us the right to boast of His love.