Do You Ever Feel Like Hiding Your Faith? Matthew 5: 14-16
Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Do you ever feel like hiding your faith? If my counseling clients are any indication, many Christians sometimes feel this way. To avoid peer pressure and rejection or to fit in, some Christians resort to hiding their faith; they go along to get along. Christians who hide or downplay their faith do so to avoid letting it become an issue with unbelievers. They don’t want to rock the boat.
The approach Christians who hide their faith use for getting along with unbelievers is to pull back into their shells and do whatever is necessary to fit in. Although this approach is understandable from a personal or worldly perspective, it is a mistake because it amounts to trying to please people instead of God. The desire to please people may be motivated by wanting to fit in, but more often than not it is motivated by fear, comfort, convenience, or ambition.
When John sought me out for counseling, he was embarrassed and ashamed. He had just returned from a business trip with his new boss, someone he hoped to impress for the purpose of career advancement. Unfortunately, to impress his boss John had hidden his Christian beliefs and done things he now regretted. While on this trip, John learned that his boss was a much different person out of town than when at home. Pressured by his superior, John swallowed his objections and joined him in some questionable activities. Now he was suffering the pangs of remorse and guilt.
Christians who put pleasing people ahead of pleasing God, regardless of the reasons, are ignoring the lesson in Matthew 5: 14-16. In these verses, we are admonished to let our light shine in ways that will allow others to see our good works and how we use those good works to glorify God. As Christians, we are to shine our light, not hide it. This does not mean that you have to spend all of your time handing out tracts. Some Christians are uncomfortable with this approach to witnessing. If you are not comfortable witnessing openly and verbally, there is another way and it can be very effective. Shine your light for others by setting a Christ-like example, one that shows them a better way rather than telling them about a better way. Our Christians beliefs should be apparent in how we live our lives. In our example, others should see Christ.
Before continuing, a caveat is in order. It is not my intention to belittle fellow believers who feel compelled to hide their faith in favor of social acceptance, job security, career advancement, or other appropriate goals. I understand how difficult it can be to feel left out socially or to excel at work without fitting in. I have worked in environments that are less than friendly to Christianity for many years. There have been times when my beliefs caused me to be left out of social gatherings, work-related meetings, problem-solving sessions, and other activities that might have been personally enjoyable or career-enhancing. Consequently, I understand the fears and frustrations of Christians who interact or work with people who do not share their faith or, worse yet, are hostile to it.
No one should be criticized for wanting to have friends or to keep a job that provides for the material needs of a family. However, the ways in which we go about winning friends or achieving job security and career success do matter. As Christians, we can have friends socially and excel at work without compromising our faith. The keys to doing this are: 1) heed the admonition in Matthew 10:16 to be both wise and innocent, and 2) remember that our fervent desire must be to please God not man.
I received some invaluable advice from a good Christian man when I first started my career. He could tell I felt like a fish out of water among my coworkers, all of whom were unbelievers. He invited me into his office for a chat. I told him that I felt out of place and that I didn’t know how to act. That was when he gave me some of the best advice I have ever received. He said, “You don’t have to act. No matter where you are or what you are doing, be who you are: a child of God.”
My final word on hiding your faith—going along to get along—is that this approach can lead to some heart-breaking situations. A Christian I will call Myra went out of town on a business trip that extended over a weekend. On Sunday, she sought out a church in her denomination and attended the 11:00 am service. After the service, Myra bumped into a co-worker who was on the same business trip. Upon seeing Myra coming out of church, this man made a comment no Christian ever wants to hear. He said: “I didn’t know you are a believer.” This comment struck Myra with the force of a hammer blow. She later confided to her pastor the shame and embarrassment she felt over what her coworker’s comment implied. Don’t let something like this happen to you.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com