Going Public

  • Jeff Crotts
Lots of people walking on staircases

Christianity is public.  By any definition from our Bibles, to be a Christian is to take our faith public.  Believers are supposed to stand out to a watching world.  Perhaps you are beginning to feel real pressure to shrink back from making your profession public and to keep your faith close to the vest, private and personal.  Temptations are bred from this strong cultural influence to stay home during this recent and extended period of isolation. Viewing church online quickly moves from being a need to a convenience where you watch church by yourself not for any reason but to avoid gathering with others in public.

When you gather together you automatically make yourself accountable to others.  People who expect you to be there will eventually notice your conspicuous absence.   When you gather, you make yourself vulnerable to others.  People ask you about your life and as well, they should.  Real ministry is this real kind of encouragement where we say to each other, “Keep going in the Christian life.”  We lift each other up when we see each other by singing together, praying together, giving together, hearing together, serving together, and bearing life together. All of these spiritual-health dynamics happen by gathering in public. People often ask where they can serve at church. My question back is whether or not this person has first entered into these basic Body-life dynamics. This level of public engagement is baseline for any other form of Christian service.

I admit that this comes easier for some personalities than others. Perhaps you consider yourself an introvert who is drained by interacting with or opening up to other people. Some Alaskans label themselves this way saying, “This is why I came to Alaska, to get away from people!” I actually understand this sentiment. Though I regularly preach behind a pulpit and lectern I suddenly feel very introverted when I do not recall someone’s name or know someone’s story. Approaching someone in church when you do not know where they are coming from can be very intimidating. Still, for the believer, mutual encouragement within the Body of Christ is essential for spiritual health.

I understand that for some people, gathering might be prohibitive. If you are suffering from sickness or are aged putting yourself at risk of becoming sick, then exposing yourself to large crowds might be dangerous and even unwise. This past Sunday evening I was encouraged to hear about a husband and wife (who’ve I’ve never met) who regularly view our livestream service and they are 90 and 91 years old! They were expressing their thanks for our ministry for which I was I was humbled and blessed to say the least.  Using wisdom regarding your health is to be expected but at the same time, staying away from your church when it gathers should be the exception rather than the rule.

The Holy Spirit guides, informs, and convicts our hearts is who compels us to make our faith public.  As the old hymn goes:  Tell out my soul the greatness of our God!  Scripture teaches that our public confession together is also how we reach others for Christ.  To walk as children of the light not darkness, to hold out the Word of life.  To literally take up the job description as ambassadors of the Gospel.

A brief survey of 2 Corinthians 5 says us as much. Paul was both aggressive and passionate regarding his public witness saying,

“…knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us…All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:11-20)

Paul’s dynamic appeal was not to fly on a solo mission. His passion is for the church to go out as ambassadors both corporately and publicly.

You say, “This sounds very intolerant!”  Won’t this public approach make people feel uncomfortable?  Our culture claims it is inclusive and tolerant but it really isn’t.  Not in the least! The philosophy called identity politics claims to give everyone an equal say and opportunity but invariably raises one group up to the detriment of another.  Jesus Christ set the precedent for our Christian identity when he said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36). Our allegiance is to Christ our King. We are citizens of his heaven, created by him, and recreated when we were given new hearts. We should not be able to contain this reality brimming inside of us. We cannot keep our faith to ourselves by staying home, away from others. Jesus taught that our faith needs to be observable. We need to let our “light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

By going public with our witness, we actually offer the saving message of the Gospel to all.  This is essential for others and for you!  Living a public witness is the number one way to fight whatever is discouraging you. Going public will combat personal depression like nothing else. Be the public ambassador Christ calls you to be and watch your own life begin to soar.