About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Privatization Of Faith
If you were a closet
Christian in the first century Roman Empire, you'd live in relative comfort. Nobody,
including Caesar, would be on your case.
Caesar had no problem with your faith locked up in your closet.
However, if it slipped off your closet shelf, onto the floor, and
rolled onto the street, you'd be food for the lions.
If you were a closet
Christian in Hitler's Germany, you could live in relative peace and safety.
Hitler could have cared less about your faith as long as you kept
it private. However, if you
exposed it in public, all hell would break loose.
If you're a closet
Christian today, that's no big deal either.
Nobody will bother you if you keep your faith bottled up inside.
However, if it seeps out into society, watch out.
The thing that sealed
your death in the first century Roman Empire and Hitler's
In Romans 10:9 the
Apostle Paul spoke to the issue of our confession of faith.
He said, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall
be saved". I recall
this being a memory verse in my Sunday school days as a child.
In obedience to Paul's admonition, every Sunday evening during
what was called "testimony meeting", I routinely mouthed my
confession of faith in a brief, albeit a nervously spoken confession.
As fast as I rose to my feet I was back in my pew.
Such a confession among believers is important, but I don't
believe that was Paul's thinking when he penned these words.
The Christian confession
of faith is a public proclamation that Jesus rose from the dead and is
now Lord over all things. It's
public because Paul said we must confess with our "mouths",
not with our thoughts. Confessing
our faith in a private gathering of saints is relatively easy, but for
first century Christians their public confession was a matter of life or
death. It brought them into
conflict with Caesar because he considered himself, and himself alone,
to be Lord over all things. He
had no problem with Christians proclaiming that Jesus was one lord among
many secondary lords, but he would not tolerate any hint of someone
telling him that Jesus was Lord over him and his empire.
Hitler felt the same, as does our culture today.
No matter the culture in
which Christians live, a private faith is no big deal, but once you go
public with your faith, that's a different matter.
Jesus told us to go public when He commanded us to preach the
gospel throughout the world. The
foundation of the gospel is that Jesus has risen from the dead and is
Lord over all things spiritual and all things material.
He submits to no one but His Father, and, in the end, all must
submit to Him. The fact of
the matter is that our faith dictates that we publicize it; thus our
present conflict with culture. Even
though our culture preaches tolerance, like Caesar and Hitler, it will
not tolerate Christians proclaiming that Jesus is Lord over it.
John the Baptist prepared
the way for Jesus' first coming by publically proclaiming that Jesus is
Lord and that all must repent and turn to Him.
John wasn't tolerated by the social establishment of his day, and
we all know what happened to him. Like
John the Baptist, we must prepare the way for Jesus' second coming with
the same public proclamation. This
is a huge challenge in the present cultural climate, but it's a
challenge we must embrace.
I find it a bit ironic
that as some in society are coming out of their closets these days,
Christians are being told to find a closet to hide in.
This is to be expected. The
natural consequence of the secularization of society is the forced
privatization of faith. We
can't agree to a private faith. If
we privatize our faith, we deny the very faith we're mandated to