March 17, 2010

The Fifth Gospel

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 8:59 pm by Tamara

Today I felt a little palpitation of panic for no good reason.  I’d left my book in clear sight on the breakroom table, with “Christian” loudly printed on its cover for all to see.  I had to deliberately resist an urge to flip it over as I headed for the microwave.  My workplace is not exactly a haven of Christianity, in fact it seems to draw the loudly liberal.  There’s one regular customer who’s particularly hostile and has told me repeatedly that he hates—yes, hates—Christians and Republicans (“You know why Republican ends in ‘N’?” he asked me,  “It’s for Republica-nazi.”)

All I could think as I sat down with my lunch and flipped open my book so you couldn’t see the cover was Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  I could almost hear those words spinning around and around in my head, accompanied by a sad, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I’d never say I’m ashamed of the gospel, per se, but openly reading a book with “Christian” stamped boldly across the cover?  I felt like a scared, fleeing disciple, running away from my Savior in the night.

Where has the power of the gospel gone—how does it so easily slip out of my sight?  The next half of the verse is “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”  Really, power?  Yes, I believe—I believe it!  There is power in the gospel.  So why don’t I feel secure?

I think sometimes it’s not that I’m ashamed of the gospel, but that I’m afraid of my stuttering, ineloquent delivery.  If someone called me on the carpet for why I’m studying to be a Christian counselor, could I answer them?  Could I answer with the joy and security that I feel when it’s just me and my wonderful Redeemer, alone in worship?  Could I tell them why I KNOW that Jesus is the only balm that will heal those deep, deep wounds?  And why am I so afraid of the reaction—so afraid that my poor witness will be the thing that turns them away from Jesus instead of to Him?  What a delicious trick of the Enemy—make me so scared stiff of turning them away from the Gospel that I won’t even share it.

Ironically, the chapter I was reading opened with a quote: “There are five gospels of Jesus Christ—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and you, the Christian.  Many people will never read the first four” (Gipsy Smith).  I see my hostile customer several times a week, and I’m always glad to see him.  Let’s call him Mr. New York Times.  I know his name, I know which paper he always wants, I greet him with a big smile and—almost inevitably—listen to the story he’s about to read in the paper: one more professing Christian (usually a politician) who just got caught in a sickening affair.  He points to that story and says that’s the Gospel.  I pray I can show him otherwise.

Please pray for Mr. NYT!  Pray for me to cling bravely to the power of the Gospel, and send those seeds out wherever they land, believing in their power to divide soul and spirit.

I am not ashamed—Lord help my shame!



  1. Mary Hamill said,

    I will pray for Mr. NYT, Tamara! God will certainly use – and is already using – you where you are!

  2. Natalie said,

    loved this post, Tamara! Well said! And praying for Mr…and you as you shine Him!

  3. hisnamessake said,

    Keep believing in that power. It is the same power that works in you which raised Christ from the dead. Not only that, but trust in God that Mr. NYT can come to know who He is. It is hard, especially with someone with such virulent hatred towards the gospel, but all things are possible through God. Just remember to trust him, because often people are the hardest thing for us to entrust to our Father’s care, though, ironically, they are the ones that we most need to trust him with.

  4. Tamara said,

    Thanks for praying, Mom and Natalie! My testimony is certainly not spotless, but I’m not giving up.

    @HisNamesSake: Beautifully said! I’ve been tossing around a post about never giving up on people as being too hardened for the Gospel, and as you said so well, “trusting in God that Mr. NYT can come to know who He is.” It does come down to trust in His power, doesn’t it? Thanks for the encouragement. : )

  5. Mom said,

    Amen to that!!!

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