In what sort of situation are you most likely to hide your faith? What are you afraid will happen?
Susan told me about her first day of a summer internship as an engineering major in an East Coast city. Most of her co-workers were her age or a little older. She was welcomed into their group, but she soon faced a dilemma. Her new friends often went to bars after work, liked to go to movies, and if they went to a ballgame, they drank and acted rowdy. A couple of the guys tried to get too “friendly” with Susan, and she began to feel uncomfortable.
She let them know that sort of behavior was not what she was comfortable with. Without being condescending or judgmental, she said that her Christian values influenced how she tried to live her life. She added that she liked the various group members and hoped that they liked her. After a few weeks, she found herself accepted by most of the group. One by one, she also had a chance to ask them about their values and spiritual journey, and in turn, had a chance to talk clearly about what she believed and tried to live out.
At school, on an intramural team, at work, or in the lab, many college students feel they should keep quiet about their faith in Jesus. There is often an inherent and clear message our culture brings to keep matters of faith out of the public square (and even the private arena, too). The result is Christian students don’t often feel confident to talk about their personal beliefs and how they affect their lives, even when it is the most natural thing to do. They think avoiding certain subjects will make it easier to get along and that they will not offend anyone.
Read Acts 26:9-32.
Consider the example of the apostle Paul. He spoke about Jesus everywhere. He spoke with fellow inmates in jails, engaged philosophers and religious leaders in the marketplace, connected with common folks (even as they tried to kill him at times), and in the text above, talked openly with King Agrippa about his faith experience on the Damascus Road (started in Acts 9 and retold in chapter 26) and what it had cost him. When Festus interrupted and shouted that Paul was out of his mind, Paul simply kept reasoning with Agrippa (Acts 26:24-27). Paul knew a person with an experience is never inferior to a person with an argument…and he actually had both.
What are things you’ve seen other Christians do to cover up their faith? What was the result? What tends to strangle your interest to share your faith? Are you willing to be courageous and discuss your faith with friends, colleagues, and professors who do not know Jesus?
If you are in a situation where you aren’t sure how to handle your faith, it makes sense to be up front about Jesus’ influence on your life and why you chose to live that way. Be gentle and respectful. Avoid being brash and judgmental. Be yourself and be honest about what you believe and why. One reason you hear, read, study, memorize, and mediate on Scripture is to “be ready to give an answer for the hope in you” (1 Peter 3:15). The Psalmist said in 66:16, “Let me tell you about what He has done for me.” Like Paul, just talk about what you know and experienced.
Live communally. We are not called to keep secrets about God from our friends. Upon hearing Jesus had risen from the dead, the angel said to the female witnesses, “Come and see and go and tell” (Matthew 28:6-7). Let’s reveal Jesus wherever He leads us.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz