Don't Hide Your Faith - Show It By Example (Matthew 5:14-16)
In a world that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, many believers are responding by hiding their faith. Although this response is understandable, it is wrong. To avoid negative peer pressure, rejection, persecution or in an attempt 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. Let me state emphatically, when it comes to your faith this is the one time you should rock the boat.
The approach some Christians take for getting along with unbelievers is pulling back into their shells and doing whatever is necessary to fit in. The obvious problem with this approach is that it amounts to seeking approval from the wrong source. The most important approval a Christian or anyone else for that matter will ever need is the approval of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Compared to pleasing Christ, pleasing one’s peers is nothing. Pleasing one’s peers can lead to temporary, conditional acceptance, but pleasing Christ can lead to unconditional acceptance and eternal life.
The need to please people is sometimes motivated by a desire to fit in, but more often than not it is motivated by fear, comfort, convenience, or ambition. Christians who put pleasing people ahead of pleasing the Lord, regardless of the reason, are ignoring the lesson in Matthew 5: 14-16. In these verses, we are admonished to let our light shine in ways that will show others 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 or yelling into a bullhorn on a street corner. A lot of Christians are uncomfortable with these approaches 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. Often showing is more effective than telling. Our Christian beliefs should be apparent in how we live our lives. In our example, others should see Christ.
It is easy for unbelievers to disagree with our words or to throw up a smoke screen to confuse the issue at hand, but disagreeing with a Christ-like example is more difficult. It is difficult for unbelievers to criticize someone who exemplifies the fruit of the spirit in how they treat others. It is even more difficult to criticize Christians who live out the Greatest Commandment by loving their neighbors as themselves. This is especially true when the neighbor receiving the loving treatment is the unbeliever who wants to criticize.
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.” This was good advice for me and it is good advice for 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