I hear the words come out of his mouth and it puts me to shame. They are the words of a person of faith. They are the words of a person of deep conviction. They are the words of one who sees the extraordinary power of God in the ordinary plight of everyday life.
They were at one time words that flowed from my mouth. They are now more often than not words that stay in my thoughts rarely coming out of my mouth outside of the safety of the company of fellow believers. What I believe has not changed. I would even say my faith has grown.
I am not ashamed of my faith but I am ashamed of the missed opportunities to share with others the extraordinary power of God in the ordinary plight of my everyday life. Something has changed and I need to figure out why.
I guess I could blame it on the pastor I spend the most time with.
I blame me! I blame my position. I blame my calling. I guess I should qualify this; I blame the illusion that serving God in a paid position, one that requires me to talk about Him, creates. Because talking about God is the main part of my job, I often overlook talking about God in my everyday exchanges.
In addition to the on duty/off duty mentality that is so easy to develop, I find myself a little afraid. It isn’t a fear of people knowing that I am a follower of Christ but rather the fear that I will play into their greatest fears. I can hear their thoughts, okay I can’t hear them but I can guess, “There goes that pastor guy talking all about Jesus again, but then what do you expect, it is his job.”
Maybe you blame it on something similar.
It may not be a pastor but it could be that overbearing fanatic that harshly corrected and boldly proclaimed truths in the name of Jesus at times when loving encouragement and quiet concern would have been more appropriate. You don’t want to look like them.
Maybe you are invested in the church and everyone knows it. You, like me are a little afraid. It isn’t a fear of people knowing that you are a follower of Christ but rather the fear that you will play into their greatest fears. You can hear their thoughts, okay you can’t hear them but you can guess, “There goes that Christian talking all about Jesus again, but then what do you expect they are always involved in church stuff.”
He knew there was a God but I am not sure that he knew God.
He was one of my best friends in high school and for years after that. Even after I got married we remained friends and tried to hang out once a week. Our lives went very different ways. I returned to my faith after walking away for years. He found his help in a bottle. It wasn’t long before he traded the bottle for a syringe. All I knew was he that he had taken off, disappeared.
Our paths crossed again over five years ago. He would be clean for a while and then disappear for days even weeks. We would talk and he would explain the depths of this disease called addiction and his commitment to conquer it. He would talk about God or was it god, I am not sure, but he did, through his NA/AA meetings, see a need for a higher power. His last dive into the world of drugs came the afternoon after he was baptised and lasted a month almost ending his life.
When I heard him talk about God’s provision, I was ashamed.
He spent five months at Teen Challenge not just getting clean but, for what I believe is the first time in his life, truly getting to know the only true God. In the past when he talked about God it was the big guy upstairs, the higher power. His statements were less about faith and more a resignation to the fact that someone must be watching over him because he was still alive.
Now his references to God are of His provision and love, grace and mercy. He attributes finding a car, a job and a new place to live to God, not because he is resigned to the fact that someone up there is watching but because he knows God loves him, provides for him and wants to have a relationship with him. He is not ashamed of his faith but rather his faith defines him and therefore is a part of the way he sees and talks about life.
My friend is not ashamed but I am.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… Romans 1:16(NIV). I am not ashamed of a loving God who wants only the best for me. I am not ashamed of my need for him and my utter helplessness without Him. I am not ashamed that I am a follower of Christ and I have never been ashamed of that fact.
I am however, ashamed that somewhere along the road I stopped seeing God in everything. I am even more ashamed that I stopped telling others about it. I can blame it on a number of things, all of them are contributing factors, but in the end it is up to me to put an end to this.