By Eileen Slattery Berglund
Probably every human that has ever lived has felt that they live in “tricky times.” Times where the lines are blurred between right and wrong. Times when we aren’t sure, or are often afraid, of what the future will hold. I am no exception. I also think we are living in “tricky times”. As a Christian, I believe that this is an opportunity for us to be the best versions of ourselves through the power of God at work within us. Surprisingly, although many agree with me, I see an alarming number of other self declared Christians who don’t seem to care.
It’s common these days to hear Christians, young and old alike, shrug off the disconnect between their life choices and their faith. When asked about it, many will say “I don't know. I’m a private person. I believe my faith is a private matter and I don’t really like to talk about it.” I certainly am not the judge of them and I respect their right to hold that position, but I question if it has any support from Jesus or other Biblical scripture. Does Jesus want us to keep our faith private? Does the Bible instruct us, or even suggest to us, that this is an acceptable or wise approach?
A few scriptures that come to mind quickly seem to support a view that says we are to clearly make our faith known to the world around us.
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”
(Matthew 5:15–16, NIV)
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”
(Matthew 28:19–20, NIV)
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name;
make known among the nations what He has done”
(Psalm 105:1, New International Version)
“In that day you will say:
‘Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name;
make known among the nations what He has done,
and proclaim that His name is exalted”
(Isaiah 12:4, NIV)
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God”
(Luke 12:8, NIV).
How we each do it will take many forms, but privacy does not seem to be one of them. I’m certainly not suggesting that we obnoxiously start every conversation with “Oh- btw, I’m a Christian”, nor do I think we need to wear name tags or mandatory T-shirts to make the message clear. (Don't get me wrong, I love my T's) What I'm getting at is that I think our lifestyle and our demeanor and our presence should be what allows people to know we are Christians. When they encounter us, they should notice that we are different, set apart. While scripture (John 13:35), and an old song, tell us that “they will know we are Christians by our love” it has to be more than a worldly love. Anyone can do that. Implied in that verse, and lost in our simple translation, is the true meaning of “love”. It is an outward, recognizable, “different than the norm” kind of love that flows out of God's love for us.
You may disagree, but I believe if we call ourselves a Christian, if we willingly of our own accord take that name upon ourselves, than it should be clear to anyone who meets us, that we are indeed a man or woman or child of God, fully surrendered and dedicated to living our life for Jesus. We won’t be perfect, but people aren’t looking for perfection. Honestly, most people are just looking for hope and something or someone they can count on. People look for consistency, and character, and “do your actions line up with your words?” They want to know, when you make a mistake, are you sorry? Do you change your behavior? Are you humble?
If someone can't tell if I'm a Christian from just being around me long enough, then it may be time for me to re-examine some of my actions, choices and attitudes. God has never been a fan of lukewarm believers, and I have to say neither am I. We were made in the image of God. Are we reflecting that image or our own?
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts. Does this seem too harsh? Can you think of exceptions? What has your experience been? As you reply, please consider your words as you type them- it is especially important to me that we learn how to dialogue on social media in grace and love. I want to be able to keep everyone’s comments up but will delete if I feel necessary.