Jan 132019 0 Responses

What Does It Mean to Have a Public Faith

Christianity is not just a personal preference. It was never meant to be a faith that is concealed or kept quiet. Every follower of Jesus is meant to live “out loud” for him.

Yet there is much confusion over what living your faith publicly actually means. Many people express their faith in ways that are not helpful while concealing their faith in ways that is also detrimental.

How are we supposed to make Jesus known? What does it mean to live in a public faith?

What a Public Faith Is Not

Before we can know what a public faith is, we need to know what it’s not.

Living faith publicly is not:

Posting things on Facebook to show you are a Christian. There is a difference between posting things that are meaningful to you compared to posting things in order to prove to others that you believe. Anytime I read a Facebook article that concludes with “a true believer isn’t afraid to share this,” I immediately skip to the next article. Christianity is not about showing off.

Mocking, degrading, or judging those who disagree. It’s been famously said that people know more about what Christians are against than what we are for. While there are times to publicly disagree with others, doing so is normally not the way we are supposed to publicly proclaim our faith.

Supporting the right political candidate. For many, Biblical Christianity has been confused with a specific political brand. Some believe that supporting that party or opposing the other party is how we publicly proclaim our faith. It’s not. (Notice, which party is the “Christian” party is not determined by Biblical teaching but is more often defined by geographical location.)

Doing things simply to give the outward appearance of faith. We are never to do anything simply for the sake of giving the appearance of faith. Putting a fish sticker on our car, praying in public, wearing a cross or an article of clothing with a Christian message, etc. are all acceptable activities but they in no way align with living a public faith.

What a Public Faith Is

Here are some ways to live your faith publicly:

We allow the teachings of Jesus to impact our daily lives. We actually do what Jesus taught us to do. We don’t explain it away. We refuse to re-interpret the text so it is less demanding. When Jesus said to forgive, we forgive. When he said to love our enemies, we love our enemies. When he asks us to give generously, we give generously. We do what he said.

We obey Jesus knowing (and accepting) that it will have some negative impact on our lives. Obedience is costly. In some places around the globe, just being a Christian could cost you your life. While that may not be true in western culture, following Jesus will have consequences. Obedience might hurt your kids playing time, could cost you a client or a job, and may cause some not to be your friend. As we follow Jesus, we accept these consequences. We don’t disobey in order to avoid the consequences and we don’t whine about the consequences. We endure because we believe obedience is worth it.  

We take risks in order to communicate our faith to others. It might include other things, but this primarily means we have individual/private conversations with others about faith. This isn’t a fish sticker on a car or a public Facebook post. It is the clear communication about Jesus to others in which we share our story and help others understand how they can follow Jesus. It’s asking others what they think about Jesus. It’s revealing to them what it means to be a follower. It’s inviting them to think about Jesus, church, and their spiritual lives.  

We embrace the local church. Just going to church isn’t following Jesus, however, we can’t obediently follow Jesus without being involved in the local church. No church is perfect. Much like a crazy family, every church has some crazy elements. But Jesus loves the church and His followers love the church as well. While the church is more than just a local expression, the way we involve ourselves in the global church is via the local church. A public faith demands local church involvement. 

Faith is private. Our relationship with God must be personal. However, if our faith is only a private faith, it isn’t real. True faith has a public component. Are you living a truly public faith or are you giving the appearance of public commitment without actually obeying, sharing, or living?

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