PERSONAL OR PRIVATE?
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy
1 Peter 3:15
A while back I was out running errands. I was wearing my St. John's t-shirt -- the one that has St. John's UMC along with our logo on the pocket area on the front and on the back in big white letters it says "Ask me why I love my church".
As I pulled into a parking space at the grocery store, something inside said "You had better know what you are going to say in answer to the question on your shirt." So I stopped and thought for a few seconds and decided that I did know what I would say. I went into the grocery store and was busy looking for the items on my list when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a gentleman who said "So, why do you love your church?" To which I replied with the answer that I had formulated in my mind. He then made a point to read the name of my church and then he gave me a thumbs up and said "Amen."
So many folks today want to say that their Christianity is between them and God - it's private. They don't want to talk about it. To that I say "My relationship with my heavenly father IS personal, but I can't possibly keep it private."
When Mary encountered Jesus in the garden after his resurrection, He didn't tell her that this was really wonderful news and she should just hold on to it - keep it a secret. No, he told her to "go and tell". And before he ascended into heaven, he told his disciples, and us as well, to go and make disciples. Well, brothers and sisters, you can't make disciples by being silent.
I recently read a story about an encounter between a minister and a C & E member of his church (you know the ones I'm talking about -- the ones who only come at Christmas and Easter.)
The preacher was standing at the door after the service as he always did to shake hands. He grabbed this member by the hand and pulled him aside.
The Pastor said to him, "Friend, You need to join the Army of the Lord!"
The member replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor."
The Pastor questioned, "Then how come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?"
He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service."
Folks, we don't need any more members of the secret service. We need Christians who aren't ashamed or afraid to speak up and tell anyone who asks why they're living the way they are.
Once I gave a children's sermon titled "A Rock Concert". I had a basket of rocks for my concert. We talked about whether or not rocks could talk and if they could what stories might they tell. For instance about the shepherd boy David who used a small rock to defeat the giant Goliath. Or about King Solomon who built a beautiful temple out of stone or rocks. Or about Elijah who built an altar out of rocks to sacrifice to the one true God. Then we remembered that Jesus told the story about the wise man who built his house upon the rock. We then read the Scripture from Luke where Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and the crowds are praising him:
Here is the way Luke relates what Jesus said.19:37-40
Luke 19:37-40: 37
As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen,
"Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!"
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop."
He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out."
We aren't hesitant to speak up about our favorite sports team, we are always ready and willing to brag on our children and grandchildren, And we don't hesitate to voice our political views...so then, why do we find it so hard to talk about our God and about all that he has done for us. This is the only way we are going to make disciples. But, let's just be sure that the things we SAY are completely in line with the things we DO in our daily lives. We must be gracious and kind. Our lives must reflect the love of the One we profess to love and serve.
So, while we all should have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father...we should never keep it private. Let's all "go and tell."
Ruth Portzline, CLM