Let's ReThink ... Private or Public Faith

Paul Adams

Go back 100 years, and most people in the UK would have agreed that it was right to worship God in public.  They might not have given their hearts to Jesus, or behaved rightly, but at least they knew what they should believe.

Now, things are very different.  Wearing a cross is banned in some workplaces; nurses and doctors are prevented from speaking about Jesus with their patients.  Faith is considered acceptable if it is private and does not affect anybody else.  But faith is said to be bad for society if it is exhibited; and it is considered very bad to try to persuade people to believe in Jesus.  Richard Dawkins has gone as far as to say that: “Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”

But Dawkins is wrong.  So are the people who want to control our thinking.  At least, they are wrong about the Christian faith because it is not an religious indulgence for ‘consenting adults in private’.  Believing in Jesus is not just a private matter to be a personal support in hard times, like a baby’s comfort blanket.  Christian faith is confessional.

‘Confession’ does not just mean ‘admitting you have done something wrong’; its real meaning is much wider.  ‘To confess’ means ‘to admit, by speaking, that something is true’.  We cannot be saved without confessing that Jesus is Lord.  Romans 10:9-10 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

We would not have believed in Jesus unless somebody had ‘confessed Christ’ to us.  We cannot understand the gospel unless somebody explains it to us.  Acts 8:30-31 says, “Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.””

Likewise, we cannot live with integrity without explaining why our lives are different from those around us.  1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …”

Nor can others come to salvation unless someone tells them about Jesus.  Romans 10:14 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

Christian faith is deeply satisfying (and deeply challenging) at a personal level; but its greatest satisfaction and challenge is to worship Him publically; and tell others that Jesus is Lord of all, who commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).  The Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.”

Hiding ourselves, and the gospel, away from the world which God loves and for which Jesus died - denies the true Christian faith.  Jesus said in Mark 8:38, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

So, if you know Jesus, let other people know: in personal conversation, in emails, at your baptism, by txt, through Skype.  Always be ready to explain why you are not ashamed of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul said in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”

So, we must be public about Jesus.  He died publically for you and will return publically for you!