Thursday, March 28, 2013

Go Tell It On the Mountain, Y'all

Tomorrow is Good Friday, and many people will be attending church services in remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion.

And so, today seems like an appropriate time to discuss something Christians say that always disturbs me a little and sometimes disturbs me a lot, and it’s some variation of “I don’t like to talk about religion, because my faith is personal.”

Hmmm …

It is true that one must have a personal relationship with Christ to be saved. You can’t be saved because your Dad is a preacher, your Mom is a Sunday school teacher, or your spouse drags you to service each week. You can’t even be saved by your own voluntary and enthusiastic church attendance. You must instead confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9).

And like any intimate relationship, a relationship with Christ is personal, no question. But Jesus never called his sons and daughters to receive faith and then not share it. On the contrary. We are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and to let the light of the Holy Spirit shine from within us (Matthew 5:15).

So, I don’t really get this whole “I won’t talk about my faith with anyone” business.

Well, let me say this. I do remember being a young Christian and being shy about my faith as well as being afraid, frankly, of being judged negatively by nonbelievers.

And even now, after being a Christian for more than twenty years, there are still times when I’ll hesitate to talk about my belief in Jesus, again out of fear, even though I recognize this as wrong (Luke 9:26).

And to be perfectly honest, whenever a Christian tells me that she doesn’t think we should publicly talk about our faith in Jesus, well, I can’t help thinking that she is simply trying to shut down the conversation for some reason, and I wonder why.

Understand, there have been times when I’ve gotten this reaction, and the objector is not even part of the conversation! For instance, once my niece began a conversation about how, in her opinion, Allah and Jesus are the same, and I began responding to that when someone else in the family, a professing Christian, said something like, “Oh, can we change the subject?”

Hmm? My niece and I were having a calm conversation, and I wanted to hear more about her beliefs, which she wanted to share. What’s the problem?

So now whenever the moment permits I say, “Well, if Jesus wanted us to keep our faith private, why did he choose such a public death?”

(I can’t take credit for this line. I’m borrowing it from a former pastor of mine.)

But why, indeed?

So if anyone reading this needs encouragement sharing her faith with others, I’d like to give it.

Christ died on the cross, in the public eye, and he calls us to share our faith and the wonder of what he did for the world to the world.

Do you know that there are still places in the world where it’s a crime for Christians to assemble? Where reading the bible is illegal? Where people are placed in jail and threatened with life incarceration unless they renounce Jesus? And they won’t?

So please, if you’re an American, in particular, don’t take your freedoms for granted.

The people of this broken, bitter world need to know about the saving grace of Jesus.

Tell them.

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