Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Public & Personal

Across this nation there is a thought that gets expressed like this:

“I think that religion is a personal thing.”

or

“Religion is strictly personal.”

These statements may be translated:

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

or

“I don’t want you to talk about it.”

or

“Please get off my back!”

Well, really, religion has to be personal--Jesus Christ is a person. He loves people. That is personal. Also, in the last 50 or so years, there has risen in evangelical circles an expression that sounds like this, “Receive Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior.” This was a reaction to the impersonal deism of church membership.

Yes, Christianity is personal. After it becomes personal it must become public. Let’s look at how Jesus expects the “personal” to become public:

What I tell you in the dark (personal), speak in the daylight (public); what is whispered in your ear (personal) proclaim from the roofs (public). (Matthew 10:27 NIV)

If you do not wish to be publicly identified with Jesus and the Bible now, then He will not identify with you publicly later.

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26 NIV)

Christianity is not personal in a private way. Christianity is personal in a public way. “The isolated Christian is an anomaly.”*

If a Christian were really private and private only and still a Christian, he would be like a finger removed from the body, existing by itself. It would have no source of food, sight, or smell. It could not continue to exist. If it could exist, it would be of no use to the rest of the body. So we say there is no such thing as a private Christian. He is part of the Church, the body of Christ.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16 NIV)

Christianity is personal and public. It is not possible to hide behind the words “personal and private” and still meet the minimum qualifications of a Christian given by Jesus.


* Quote from “Total Christian War” by Howard Guiness

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

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