Do you feel peer pressure to minimize the gospel? Do you feel a bit timid to announce that you are a Christian. The apostle Paul addresses this in Romans 1.16.
Verse 16 of Romans 1 starts off by giving a reason, or a basis, or a ground, for why something was said in the sentences before it. Reading your bibles you see the little word “for”.
Paul is making his argument as to why he wants to preach the gospel in Rome (v.15).
He is not ashamed of the gospel he says. But why would he comment on shame? The probable reason is that Paul feels he has to say something about shame.
Paul feels that there was a lot of horizontal pressure in the Roman world. It was the pressure of shame. Rome was a place where you were always facing the pressure of potential shame if you didn’t conform to it.
Let me give you an example of this. Look at the picture called the Alexamenos Graffito. It’s a wall carving from Rome that is one of the earliest depictions of Christian worship.
The picture shows Alexamenos with hand raised in worship to a Crucified man, presumably Jesus. But it is Jesus with the head of a donkey. The caption with the picture reads, “Alexamenos worships God”
To say that a Christian believes in donkey worship is a crude way to shame them. Alexamenos was a Christian who was publicly shamed for believing in Jesus Christ.
This horizontal pressure of a shaming culture was prevalent at Rome. Yet Paul was not ashamed of the gospel.
Part of why Paul was eager to preach the gospel, and was not ashamed of the gospel, was because the gospel has a pressure of its own. It has an expansive pressure.
The gospel is news to be proclaimed.
According to the Old Testament definition,
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.Isaiah 52.7
So there is an expansive pressure that is always pressing outward. This is the gospel’s pressure, and it makes a person unashamed of the gospel, willing to face the horizontal pressure of the world’s shame.