Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It is Impossible to Keep Faith in Christ Private

Recently I have heard people say online and in articles that they don't have a problem with Christianity, as long as believers keep their beliefs private and to themselves.  A particularly graphic article compared sharing one's faith with publicly exposing themselves.  In one sense, I can understand the sentiment, that those of the secular world don't wish to have Christian ideals forced upon them.  Christianity should never be forced on anyone.  In fact, it cannot be forced, as each individual must come to Christ by their own accord. 

However, by stating Christianity should be a private faith seems to impose the same "rule" society has about one's sex life.  "Don't tell me about it, I don't want to know.  That's between you and Him.  Keep it in your bedroom."  Going back to the article mentioned above, public belief is likened to be no better than a pervert flashing the populace.

But keeping things quiet between you and God is not what the Lord Jesus Christ had in mind.  In fact, keeping a private faith is not being true to His teachings.  True Christianity is about going into the world and making disciples (Matthew 28:19).  True Christianity is living the abundant life.


There is no such thing as a "private" abundant life.  What does it mean to have an "abundant" life?  Well, let's start with a life sold out for Jesus Christ.  When one loves another, how easy is it to keep that love private?  Doesn't it become quite obvious when someone falls in love?  The object of their affection is all they can talk about, think about, wonder about, learn about.  It is no different with Jesus.  Christians don't merely "believe" in Jesus like I "believe" the sky is blue.  Christians adore Jesus.  Their minds are staid on Him.  

The abundant life also stems from having a Christian world view.  It is impossible to keep one's Christianity private when their entire world view is shaped by their beliefs.  Everything they do will be affected by this world view.  

In other words, the true Christian cannot merely blend in.  If they claim Christianity and yet look no different than the world, something is very wrong.

 

In fact, we are called by our Lord to shine (Matthew 5:16). One cannot "shine" privately.  What happens when you turn on a lamp?  Do other people in the room know you've done so?  Is it even possible not to know when a lamp is turned on in a darkened room?  Christ told us that no one lights a lamp and hides it under a basket (Matthew 5:15).  And yet that's exactly what some are calling us to do!



Now, this is not to say we should beat people on the head with the Bible.  We simply shine.  The idea of being a light isn't to condemn your fellow man, but to live in the grace and truth of God and be a fisher of men.  It's to live in such a way that people cannot help but know there's something different about you.  Christ told us our hearts would overflow with rivers of Living Water (John 7:38).  How can THAT be kept private?  Simple - it can't.

The overflow stems from our love for God.  We cannot help but praise His holy name.  We cannot help but thank Him.  We look to Him for help, for peace, for grace, for love, for joy.  In fact, God is to be so much the center of our lives, that we would be willing to give up our families, even our very lives for Him (Luke 14:26).  We are instructed to deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Him (Matthew 16:24).  That cannot be done within the privacy of our own hearts.  

The whole point is to put our lives on display for the glory of God!

Another reason we cannot keep our faith to ourselves is the intense joy loving and following Christ gives us.  The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  It's undeniable, and likely the very light by which we shine.  How can we find our strength and peace in times of trial?  It's the joy of the Lord.  

Have you ever tried to hide pure joy?  

What do you do when you're joyous?  You crank the music.  You dance.  You laugh.  You whoop and holler.  You call your friends.  You scream and shout.  You jump up and down.  You hug people.  You smile, and most of the time, your joy is infectious.  Others want to be happy with you.  You bring joy into their hearts.  This is what the abundant life means.  This is what shining means.  This is the fruit of a life lived for God's glory.

That is not to say only Christians can be full of joy.  Obviously anyone can feel joy.  However, our joy is not dependent upon our circumstance, but upon Christ - and therein lies the difference.  

Christianity is a world view.  It is a lifestyle.  It is a conviction, a belief that permeates the core of your soul.  It is a joy, an adoration, an all-consuming fire that is impossible to contain.  How, then, can we keep things quiet?  We can't, bottom line.  

I am well aware there are many out there who give Christianity a bad name.  A lot of these people are the more famous faces of the faith.  But the heart and soul of true Christianity is all about being like Christ and magnifying His name.

And He most certainly did NOT keep to Himself in Judea!



~~Becka

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