I have been saving a few stories for blogging, but I couldn’t quite decide what to write. I have been doing columns for this month in the local newspaper and coming up with topics can sometimes be difficult. I used a couple of posts from the past year to build a couple of columns around this time, so I probably won’t post those here, but I might post one or two of them later on.
The question of this post was something that struck me based on a statement I read in a recent news article. The article is about a teacher who is accused of teaching creationism to his science students (which is heresy against the great and powerful Darwin), along with some other charges that may or may not be true. I have honestly learned that even a sympathetic story in a newspaper or other media tends to have a few simple mistakes; and by extension a story with an axe to grind as this one seems to be is probably loaded with more truth shading of an intentional sort. That said, there was an interesting quote at the end of the story that the writer used to sum it up with what is likely a view closer to his agenda.
“We are Christians,” she said, “who practice our faith where it belongs, at church and in our home and, most importantly, outside the public classroom, where the law requires a separation of church and state.”
Is faith something to be cordoned off to a church building or hiddin away from view at home? Nevermind the gross misunderstanding here of the original intent of separation of church and state, is this an accurate portrayal of how Christians are supposed to “practice our faith?”
I would answer no. Our faith should so permeate our being that it shows up in every area of our life. Unfortunately, many are content to just have Christianity be a thing that is a part of their life over in this one space you know. It is a strange thing to be sure, but it is symptomatic of the culture around us. It is OK to be a Christian as long as you don’t live like one is the message that is being given over and over again. It is OK to believe what the Bible says about right and wrong as long as you don’t insist on telling someone else about it. Christianity cannot abide by these rules. Jesus said that no one lights a lamp and sticks it under a basket. The Christian faith compels us to let our lights shine before men (Matthew 5:14-16).
Let me give you another story or two in contrast. Recently I ran across the story of another person who has been arrested in our country for proclaiming the Gospel. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last, but every time I read one of these accounts, I am always stunned and incredulous that this is really happening in our country.
It was last May when Parker was sharing the Gospel from a public sidewalk outside the high school after students were dismissed for the day.
The school principal came out and told him to leave, whereupon Parker explained his First Amendment free speech and free exercise of religion protections. Dissatisfied, the principal called police.
According to the ADF, when officers arrived they took control of the situation and instructed students “not to go near Parker.”
The principal then insisted that Parker be arrested.
“While speaking with officers, Parker’s toe brushed against the grass along the school side of the sidewalk. The officers arrested him and issued him a summons for ‘defiant trespassing,'” the ADF reported.
The events leading to the arrest were recorded on video.
The charges have been dismissed this time and in most of these cases, but the point of the arrests is already accomplished. The people involved simply don’t want to hear Christians sharing the Gospel and proclaiming the truth for all to hear. Just last May we had an evangelist who stayed in our house and told us the story of how he was arrested in North Carolina for sharing the Gospel in a public square. The bottom of the story reference above contains links to several other similar stories.
The day is coming when our government will likely put into practice the sentiments of the first Christian quoted above and tell us that it is fine to have faith in Christ as long as we “keep it where it belongs.” But I am telling you that faith doesn’t belong in a closet or a church or a corner where no one can see. Our faith must be on display for all to see. I am reminded of the words of the Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:9-16:
9For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. 14I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you to imitate me.