David L. Goetsch
Hiding Your Faith
Does peer pressure or fear of rejection ever make you feel like hiding your faith? It’s not uncommon for Christians to feel this way. To fit in with secular friends, coworkers, or classmates, some Christians resort to hiding their faith; they go along to get along. Not wanting to rock the boat, they hide their lamp “under a bushel basket” (Matthew 5:15). Although the desire to fit in with peers is understandable from a worldly perspective, hiding one’s faith is a mistake because it is done to please people rather than God. The desire to please people—to fit in—more often than not it is motivated by fear, comfort, convenience, or ambition.
When John made an appointment with Pastor Gary 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 his boss was a much different person out of town than at home. Pressured by his boss, 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 verbally, there is another way that can be very effective. Shine your light for others by setting a Christ-like example, one that shows them a better way. Our Christians beliefs should be apparent in how we live our lives. In our example, others should see Christ. Show others a Christ-like example long enough and consistently enough and the words you lack will come to you.
Before continuing, a caveat is in order. Believers who feel compelled to hide their faith in favor of social acceptance, job security, career advancement, or other appropriate goals should not be condemned. It is difficult to feel left out socially or to excel at work without fitting in. Being left out of social gatherings, work-related meetings, and other activities that might be personally enjoyable or career-enhancing is no fun. Consequently, the fears and frustrations of Christians who interact with or work alongside people who do not share their faith or, worse yet, are hostile to it are understandable.
No one should be criticized for wanting to have friends or keep a job that provides for the material needs of a family. However, the way in which we go about winning friends, ensuring job security, or achieving career success does 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 desire must be to please God not man.
When you struggle with how to act around people who reject God, remember this: You don’t have to act. No matter where you are or what you are doing, be who you are: a child of God. Fitting in with God rather than hiding your faith to fit in with peers is always the right choice.
A final word on this topic is in order. Hiding your faith to fit in can lead to heart-breaking situations. 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.” His 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. Shine your faith, don’t hide it.
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