What I believe is personal
The position that faith is a private matter originates from two very different views. Those who claim to follow Christ, and those who have no desire to. I would like to explore both, and then take a look at what the biblical position is on this subject.
The first group holds the position that what they believe is “personal” releasing them from any obligation to share their views or take a stand. They can also be very defensive or vague when questioned about what they actually believe. They accept little or no responsibility for the welfare of others, “I don’t want to judge” especially if there is personal cost or sacrifice involved. When social issues are in conflict with Biblical teaching, their stance is “it doesn’t affect us directly no need to get involved”, or compromising authority of scripture using what benefits their position, dismissing the rest. A pastor in my area when questioned about scripture that is in conflict with cultural acceptance dismissed the Biblical view with, “I take the Bible seriously, but not always literally.” Their mantra is “Jesus loved everybody” that’s all we need to do.
With this group there is the tendency to be chameleons, blending into whatever setting they are in, living compartmentalized lives, determined by the setting they are in. Their personal, work, social, and church identity can all look different. The first view is rooted in selfishness, and self-preservation, the second is well, hypocritical. Both are disobedient to the two things Jesus said was most important
“You should love the Eternal, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
The second great commandment is this: “Love others in the same way you love yourself.” He even said “There are no commandments more important than these”.
The second group is adamant that you keep your views/convictions private. They quickly point out all the terrible things done in the name of religion, and assign most of the problems of the world to religion. “It (religion, faith) causes great problems on a local, national, state and global scale”, is their worldview. This group believes religious discussion or influence has no place in the public sector, including schools, universities and increasingly even in our military.
Biblical views that address issues such as morality, sexual identity and marriage, right to life, are intolerant, bigoted and judgmental. The progressive movement in our society seeks laws and ordinances under the guise of preventing discrimination and inequality, that would in effect silence biblical opinion. Because Biblical teaching and doctrine is in direct conflict with what culture finds acceptable in many areas, these local laws and ordinances would impose on Christians and religious groups the very inequality this group claims to be seeking protection from. We see this already when Christian businesses and individuals are threatened with fines, prosecution and incarceration for refusing to perform services that violate their religious conscience and belief.†
But what is the Biblical view of our faith? Is it public or private? Do true followers of Christ have a choice? According to the Bible and Jesus himself, the answer is no.
Our faith as it is expressed in our belief in Jesus Christ and what he taught is always a public matter. To make it private is to at the very least, disobey Jesus command in Matthew 28 “I am here speaking with all the authority of God, who has commanded Me to give you this commission: Go out and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.
Go out and make disciples, baptize them, teach them, the message is clear. Our faith is a public matter and it must be authentic. Peter, who in his moment of testing denied his relationship with Jesus said this years later “ Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15
Paul says this in 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
Jesus said “But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.
The world needs the message of the Good News as much as it ever has and the Biblical view concerning public or private faith is clear. We have two choices to hide our light, or let it shine. What will your choice be?