You Must Embarrass Yourself

david-dancing-before-the-lord

“…Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. …and said ‘How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!’ So David said, ‘It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler of the people of the LORD, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate the LORD. I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes….”

2 Samuel 6:16b, 20b-22a NASB

King David was well-known for his charismatic and intense spirit. He was called a man after God’s own heart. We can learn a lot from his life, both in terms of what to do and what not to do. Not everyone is going to match the vigor of David’s spirit, as we are all gifted differently with varying temperaments. But there is one area in which we must all strive to be like him, and that is in our willingness to embarrass ourselves.

I’ve recently been sharing my thoughts on Christian evangelism. In my last post I discussed how evangelism is obligatory for Christians. I received some thoughtful feedback on the matter. One reader discussed his personal struggle with pursuing evangelism. In summation, he said that his reluctance to evangelize is informed by an avoidance of personal risk derived from the social intimidation that comes with the thought of being negatively associated with certain Christians.

The Scriptures have much to say regarding this matter. Jesus told His disciples that if others rejected them, it was actually Jesus who they were rejecting (Luke 10). He says also that the world will know they belong to Christ when they see the love that Christians have for one another (John 13). Jesus says also in His famous Sermon on the Mount:

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16 NASB

In other words, if we love God we will be driven to love others and to good works. When the watching world sees the love we have and the righteous deeds we perform, they will know that we are of God. When we are pursuing and living for God, our lives become a window to nonbelievers into the person of Christ. Our love for God will motivate us to obedience and will stir in us a love and compassion toward others. Our love for others will draw us toward sharing the Gospel with others. Many will reject us! But is not us they reject, but Christ- provided we are living according to Christ’s teachings.

If nonbelievers reject the message, we need not be ashamed for sharing the message. It is God who, as the Psalmist says, “illumines [our] darkness” (18:28b). So long as they are in darkness, they will respond as those who are in darkness. We do not help them to see the light of Christ by covering it to avoid their (or our own) personal discomfort. The Gospel will change them. We must never change the Gospel.

Jesus also tells His disciples to “count the cost” of discipleship (Luke 14). Being a disciple of Christ will require personal sacrifice, often in the form of personal discomfort. Fortunately, we have as our example One Who gave His body willingly to be tortured, stripped, and crucified for the sake of our salvation. There is no sacrifice too great to make on behalf of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul reminds us of the suffering he endured for the Gospel. He counted as gain everything he lost for the sake of Christ. And everything he gained, he esteemed as dung (Philippians 3:8). He spoke of his evangelical pursuits as a race for which he exercised great discipline to win (1 Corinthians 9). His prize was to fulfill the work of Christ.

These Scriptures present to us a great personal challenge. Are we willing to esteem God above all others? Jesus says that to follow Him, we must proverbially hate everyone and everything else in comparison (Luke 14). It is only by this estimation that we can ever publicly shame ourselves to live a life of overt praise as David did. And it is only by this estimation that we be made willing to endure personal discomfort and any other more severe manner of sacrifice.

The call to evangelism is first a call to total love for and surrender to God. When He is the object of our affections, no earthly shame will matter. Do you love God this way? If not, ask Him to tune your heart to sing His grace. As the hymnist Robert Robinson writes:

“Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.”

 

 

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5 thoughts on “You Must Embarrass Yourself

  1. Jay Jordan says:

    Thanks Jon, this is a good take on how we should show the gospel to others. I often feel that my own social awkwardness, my doubt in my ability to offer a good answer for “the reason for hope I have”, and my own, sometimes wavering conviction of my own faith, makes me concerned just as much that I might not only appear foolish to my own disgrace, but to the disgrace of the church and the body of believers.
    In allowing myself to think this way I am likely placing too great a burden on my own shoulders and overestimating the impression I may produce in another individual with my personal testimony. But there is always the nagging thought that I might inadvertently reinforce some negative preconception of Christians at large through my own foolish or unprepared speech and push someone in the wrong direction as a result.
    However, as you well put, it is not only worth the risk, but demands it. It is not my words that will change someone, nor my efforts that will create change in their heart, but the movement of the Holy Spirit, that I must be willing to give over control to and rely upon for good counsel and support when discussing Christ with another person.
    And I think it is also helpful to keep in mind, as obvious as it seems in the abstract, yet less so in the moment, that any given encounter we have, except on rare occasions, will be one small event in the course of many, in one person’s walk toward Christ; one small link in a long chain of interactions, encouragements, and kind words that is being pieced together patiently by God, who is the other person’s patient and pursuant Father, just as He is mine. Whether our one little link in their chain is a shining and polished addition, or one that is a bit rusted and out of shape, the point is that it is there, linking to the one before and after it, strengthened and made valuable by the one that devised its placing and knows its ultimate end.

    • Well said. Yes, it is the Holy Spirit who wields our feeble attempts to pursue His work in the hearts of people. It’s always important to remember that God spoke to Balaam through an ass. I have done things to write about perfectionism as well. More on that later.

  2. Jay Jordan says:

    Thanks Jon, I think this is a good take on how we are to put ourselves out there to spread the word of the gospel. I think that sometimes I allow my own social awkwardness, my doubt in my ability to offer a good answer for the hope that I have, and the sometimes wavering conviction of my faith, which makes me afraid that I might not only amount to a disgrace to myself personally, but to the body of believers at large.
    I realize that this is likely me over-estimating the impact of my personal testimony on another person and placing too great a burden on my own shoulders, but there is still the fear that I may unintentionally push someone in the wrong direction.
    But, as you well put, it is not only worth the risk, but it demands the risk. Of course it is my responsibility to be rooted in my faith and prepared to convey it as eloquently and attractively as possible, but it is never my words or my efforts that create change in another’s heart, but it is the movement of the Holy Spirit, to whom I must be willing to turn control over to when discussing Christ with another.
    And I think it is also helpful to remember, as obvious as it seems in the abstract, yet less so in the moment, that any given interaction we have with another person, is just one small event out of many in their walk toward Christ; one small link in a long chain of encouragements, kind words and gentle talks that is being pieced together for that person by God, who is their patient and pursuant Father, just as He is mine. And whether our link in their chain is polished and bright, or is a bit rusty and out of shape, the point is that it is there, linked to the one before it and the one after it, and made strong and valuable by the one that ordained its place there, and knows how the chain will ultimately be finished.

    • Jay Jordan says:

      Dang it, I knew this would happen. I typed up a long comment, posted it, and it disappeared even after a bunch fo refreshes. So I tried to retype it from memory, reposted it, and then there the original one is again. And apparently I can’t delete my own comments.
      I guess
      now you can gauge how good a memory I have.

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