Our Pastor tonight preached on Romans chapter 1, asking the question ‘are you ashamed of the gospel?’

Straight answer: no! I am not ashamed. Everyone who knows me (as far as I can ascertain) knows I am a Christian. At least they should know, I make no effort to ever hide it, and try to highlight it as much as I can, by both word and deed.

However, there is a thing called ‘guilt by association’. We use it to make a point that the company you keep can affect how people perceive you (which can form part of your testimony). Unfortunately, there are many who are seen by the world as purveyors of the same gospel I believe in, and I have no wish to be associated with them, like the ones whose politics are disagreeable to me, like Iain Paisley and George W. Bush (and the whole Republican Religious Right in the US), or who are seen by everyone as charlatans, like those who cannot help themselves when they get in front of a camera but to peddle their wares like their special bibles or CD recordings, or those who have disgraced themselves publicly like Jimmy ‘I have sinnnnned!’ Swaggart. Now let’s get something clear when we’re discussing Swaggart; there is forgiveness (which is the central foundation of this gospel of ours!) for all of us, Praise God, and that episode of his life is long gone (hopefully), but it was the way in which everything played out on live TV, and his disregard for spiritual advice in carrying on with his ministry with no break or respite for contemplation and penitence. THAT is how he is perceived by most people, rightly or wrongly, and that is my unease with him. (The fact that I worked in the Faith Mission bookshop in Belfast many years ago when the proprietor shipped in 144000 copies of his then 18 albums of his woeful teeth-grinding wailing that many thought was beautiful inspired singing, and played it in the shop all day everyday AD NAUSEAM has nothing to do with it. 😛 )

It is the above reasons that make me nervous and uneasy (but never ashamed) when people realise I am born again, saved, a holy roller, whatever. The only thing I will NOT let people call me is ‘good living’!!!

Grace be with you.

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