Public vs. Private

This morning I read an article by an atheist writer. I like to read his thoughts because he makes me think. Of course I have to sort through the anger, harsh words and bitterness that comes from his past, but he has a lot to say. This morning his topic was public prayer. His arguments were compelling to argue that we should not be busy about public prayer, but pray privately. So, I began to think about the broader picture. What about me should be public? What should be private? Should all of my life be lived for the public square or should some of my life of faith be private for only God to see?

Those questions began to rumble about in me this morning after a time of rest from the long trip to Kenya and back. We all live in cultures where we become numb to the cultural nuances of our faith lived in a society. Not everything we believe is correct. Not everything we do is right, so how should I live? What about me should be private? What should the world see?

Immediately I think about Jesus’ words in John 13. These words really bother me because they tell me something about me and they tell me that God has put in the minds and hearts of those who are not Christians what they SHOULD see in my life. It’s really very simple, but very convicting. Here is what should be seen,

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The command is simple and clear, isn’t it? We are to love one another. That’s it. Simple, clear, evident….but did you see HOW we are to do this? That’s where the rub comes, “As I have loved you,” The model for this is how Jesus lived and walked in a fallen world. That’s how we are to love others as well. That’s what they should see! If they don’t see me loving them as Jesus did then I have failed!

But here’s the part that bothers me the most. It’s as if God has placed in the world’s common mindset what this should look like. The lost man, the atheist knows what I should live like. God built it into him to know what a Christians should look like and when we don’t live that way they become bitter, angry and reject Christ. Did you see what Jesus said in verse 35? “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The world knows what a Christian should look like in the public square. We should be men and women in love with those around us. It’s the mark of the Christian. It’s the sign that what we believe is true. It’s the lifestyle that will silence a watching world.

So, what should be private? Honestly, most of my Christian life should be private. What should be public? My love for others.

Let’s turn down the volume on lifestyles, morals, what people should do, what they shouldn’t and let’s live out these simple verses. I wonder, if a few believers ever did take Jesus’ words seriously, what might happen around them….I wonder.


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