Private Faith in Public

This week I read about privatization. Usually when we see that term, it refers to taking something that is done by our government and having it done by private company. Instead I was reading about the privatization of Christianity. The idea of a personal relationship with God sounds like a good thing, but as that faith becomes more personal it often becomes more private. A life intended to be a city on a hill instead becomes hidden away. As this happens, our world gets used to not seeing our faith, and as a result our faith becomes unwelcome in their eyes. Peter Berger put it this way. “Faith does not simply have a new home in our private lives; it is no longer accepted outside of that sphere.”
Living in a culture that views talking about faith as something that is unwelcome creates a difficult situation for Christians whose call mandated by scripture is to share their faith. Talking about faith has become socially unwelcome the way men wearing a hat indoors once was (and still is in some places). The greater struggle is not only do we not understand that it is viewed that way, we are also disproportionately concerned about hats being worn indoors and similar traditional ideas. We raise many traditional issues to the level of doctrine which in turn makes a world that is already skewed against hearing from us about our faith even less likely to want to hear from us. That has a negative impact on our ability to share the gospel. I was raised in the south. I do not like to see hats indoors either, but my thoughts about those kinds of issues should never lessen my ability to share the gospel. I can hold back some of my opinions in that effort.
In his book, unChristian: What A New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity. . .And Why It Matters, David Kinnaman found that more than eighty percent of young Americans described Christianity as judgmental and hypocritical. Seventy percent described Christianity as insensitive to others. Most of us would consider those descriptors to be inaccurate or unfair, but that is how they see us. As I read the list of those and other descriptors, I thought of them filling in the blank of a phrase we know. “They will know we are Christians by our ___________.” When our world fills in that blank with anything other than love, we have work to do. It does not require that we ignore sin or lower our moral standards. It does require us to love others at the level Jesus did. The world around Jesus (especially those outside of the religious leadership) saw His love and compassion first.
If we can get loving to be higher on the list of descriptors of Christianity, maybe the world would be more open to hear about our faith. The message of Jesus is too important for our world to miss hearing.

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