Thu. Nov 5th, 2020
Private religion

We are currently going through Senate Confirmation Hearings for a Supreme Court Nominee. In recent decades this questioning has often focused on the candidate’s view of privacy. This was a veiled (recently, not so veiled) way to ask the candidate about their views on hot-button issues.

One of the effects of this activity on the national stage is that as Americans we become increasingly more protective of private matters in our lives—areas in which we believe no one or no entity has a right to intervene. This is a thought that I fully understand as I very much protect my own privacy. But as Christians, if we allow this attitude to affect the way we practice our faith, it will hinder our obedience to Christ and to basic Christian issues like our witness as well as our surrender and submission to the Lordship of Christ.

This desire for absolute privacy in our lives leads to lives that are compartmentalized, lives in which God reigns in some segments but is not sovereign over all. We can become quite comfortable with having areas of privacy that no one else, including God, has the right to be involved. Harvard Professor Stephen Carter pointed out in “The Culture of Disbelief” that society finds it easy to tolerate “people whose religion consists of nothing but a few private sessions of worship and prayer, but who are too secularized to let their faith influence the rest of their week.” He insightfully concludes, “This attitude exerts pressure to treat religion as a hobby.”

Maintaining this privacy of faith severely limits the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and slows this process of sanctification (becoming Holy as He is Holy) through which all believers journey. The way we appear to others around us might be inconsistent with how we are called by Christ to live out our faith. Instead of being an effective witness for Christ to a lost and struggling world, we become a contradiction to what genuine Biblical faith should look like.

It seems clear that thousands of years ago when King David wrote Psalms 139:23-24, God had every right to occupy and direct every area of his life. David prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” He held nothing back.

Holding on to areas of our life is not only disobedient to God, it leaves those areas much more vulnerable to failure. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.” Anything short of inviting our Lord’s full involvement in every area of our lives is something less than authentic Christianity.

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