In his beautiful hymn, “May This My Glory Be,” Tillit S. Teddlie proposed the impossibility of one being ashamed of Jesus Christ. To be ashamed of Christ, Bro. Teddlie suggested, would be like the evening blushing to own a star. Since stars are the glory of the evening sky, to be ashamed of them would be something akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the actions of many believers do, in fact, show that they are ashamed of Christ. Certain progressives within our fellowship have long pontificated about the “baggage” carried by the name “Church of Christ.” This name, they say, is an obstacle to evangelism, because of the negative connotations associated with it. Those among them with sufficient influence to do so have persuaded their congregations to drop “Christ” from their signage, stationery and advertising. Now one may see a marquee with a name such as “Hilltop Church,” rather than “Hilltop Church of Christ.” Insinuated in the arguments for such a change is that our denominational neighbors do not have such baggage to overcome.
In point of fact, however, more and more denominational churches are doing exactly the same thing, and they are using the very same reasoning for it. It is not uncommon today to find a large church building with a sign that reads, “Crestview” or “Bible Fellowship” or “The Vineyard.” To the uninitiated, these appear to be churches that are not affiliated with any denomination. On closer inspection, however, one finds that the preachers on staff were trained in Baptist seminaries and the church is affiliated with one or more of the various Baptist Conventions, or with some other denomination. They claim that they are “non-denominational,” but they are actually hiding their denominational affiliation for the same reasons given by progressives in our fellowship.
While those who take such actions will deny it, removing Christ from the name of the church is an act of shame. The scriptures speak clearly of the church being the body of Christ (Col. 1:18; 1 Cor. 12:12, 13). In Eph. 5:22-33 Paul speaks of the church as the bride of Christ. Even in the convoluted world in which we live today, it is typical for a bride to take her husband’s name. So why shouldn’t the bride of Christ also carry His name? To choose not to wear the name of Christ suggests that one is ashamed to wear it.
Lost somewhere in the determined rush to jump on the ecumenical band wagon is the fact that the Lord warns us about being ashamed of Him. In Lk. 9:26 He said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” This same warning is made also in Mk. 8:38. Both of these warnings appear in the context of the Lord’s teaching on discipleship, specifically in reference to becoming a disciple by obedience to the gospel. It is in this context that we expect one to make profession of his or her faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord suggested that failing to do so indicates that one is ashamed of Him.
There are, of course, many ways in which our actions may show that we are ashamed of Christ. A failure to be faithful in our walk as Christians is one way. Dressing, speaking and acting like the world is another. Refusing to put Christ’s name on a church marquee may seem a small thing, but it reflects an underlying shame that belies every other profession of loyalty a church may make. Let us not be ashamed of Christ in anything we do, so He will not be ashamed of us at judgment.