Having worked in several nursing homes, one of which was here in Northeast Wisconsin, I have had many conversations with the older generations who do not freely talk about their faith, to the point one wonders if they even have any faith. These elderly people have spent their life time in church, but cannot even say a prayer aloud because they hold a “private faith.” Most of these people come from mainline/liberal backgrounds.
Holding a “private faith” is what has gotten the mainline churches in trouble over the years.
People who are not evangelical, born-again Christians often have remarks for those who are. Ironically, the harshest criticism of evangelical Christians comes not from athiests and agnostics, but rather from mainline and liberal churchgoers.One of the most common criticisms is that evangelical Christians “wear their faith on their sleeve.”
Liberals get annoyed that conservatives proudly talk about the saving blood of Jesus, and complain that evangelical faith is too “black and white.” So they promote the “humbleness” of being “private” people.
Evangelicals make decisions not to participate in sports games on Sunday mornings so they can attend church with their families; evangelicals utilize their faith when choosing elected officials; evangelicals tend to be selective about who is allowed inside their closest friendship circles; and evangelicals are not afraid to pray in school. Of course, then there’s the Christian t-shirt industry which continues strong, allowing Christians to literally wear their faith on their sleeve. But the point is this: evangelical Christians have a reason to share their message and they tend not to have such “private” faith.
Is a person more humble who does not talk about their faith? Or is that person really just scared and not committed to their faith? Humility may come with few words, but one of those words better be Jesus.
Evangelical believers who have accepted the saving grace of Jesus Christ and want their friends and neighbors to receive that grace, too, cannot hold a private faith because their testimony gets lost in the transaction. Conservative Christians must be vocal about their beliefs and let it be known they are followers of the Lord. This is required by Scripture – human interaction. Trusting one another. Communicating. Sharing. Mainline churches are declining because their members are afraid to boldly share Christ with others.
Some of this boils down to personality. Some people are naturally more private while others are more outgoing. Some of the wisest believers don’t say much – but when they do say something, it is powerful. Wise people await the moment to speak – it is not that they don’t speak at all, but they consider what they are saying. Wise people do not demand privacy. Sometimes they earn a level of privacy because people respect them and offer them space.
The reality is all the talk of “privacy” these days, whether it is HIPA or phone contracts, everyone wants privacy but they can’t get it. Social networking has gotten so popular because it allows interaction without committment.
In many cases, “privacy” leads to is a false sense of “security.” If “no one knows me” or “no one knows what I’m about” then no one can criticize, no one can engage. In truth, no one can even bless. If you hold a “private” faith, you can believe what you want. A great way to become a heretic. Public faith ensures checks and balances, that your faith is Biblical and you are not deviating from what God wants for your life.
You can’t receive all the blessings God has for you if you keep everything to yourself and hide from the world around you. When other believers are aware of you, aware of your faith, they know how they can best bless you, whether you need a hand with a project or you just need a friend.
When a person becomes an evangelical believer, insecurity gets left behind. The genuine conversion results in the believer knowing who he or she is in Christ, and doesn’t have to rely on the security measures of the world to protect their identity and sense of self or even to protect their physical person or possessions. God is the ultimate Protector. And He is our Refuge and Strength.
Christianity requires a public committment. That is why baptism is done with the presence of witnesses and other believers. You can’t sit in a corner alone. Jesus Christ died so you could live.
That is something to proclaim, not to stick in your private drawer so no one else knows about it.