Belief In God is Not a Private Matter
by Fay Davidson
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Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God (John 12: 42-43 NIV).
The evidence of salvation must be a two-part process – believing and confessing.
Confessing is speaking aloud what you believe. The Bible says ‘if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Romans 10:9 NIV).
There can be no silent believer, if you believe with all our heart.
God has made us with such a kind of passion that we must express what our heart believes in. It is more difficult to be silent than not to be silent. Silence about your belief in Jesus suggests that there is something or someone else that has a higher place in your heart than your commitment to God. And your devotion to, or your obsession with that thing or person is speaking louder than your commitment to God.
That thing that keeps you quiet could be doubt, fear, pride, a desire to protect the image of how you want others to perceive you, or simply a lack of trust in God that he will give you the words to say when you need to speak out. That someone could be your friend, spouse, boss, society or you.
The heart is the motor that propels your actions, and how you respond to situations and circumstances only bring out what is already deeply embedded in your heart. So whatever thought, belief or emotion is foremost in your heart will determine what you say and do, and how you do it.
If you reason that religion is a private matter and you don’t need to tell anyone about what you believe, then that shows that in your heart you do not understand God, you do not believe and accept what he says about himself or about you, and you do not appreciate the extent of his love for you, or the extent of the love he requires of you.
What does God say about himself? He says he must have first place in your life. He instructed the Israelites to tear down every other altar and worship him alone. He commanded that they should have no other gods before him because he is ‘a jealous God’ (Exodus 34:14).
Jesus says there are two deities in this world, God and money and you have to choose whom you will serve. You cannot serve both. ‘No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’ (Mt 6: 24 NIV).
God also says he will not compete for your affection with the world and the things that are in it. You have to hate the world. He says, ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1John 2:15). Moreover Jesus warned that if you keep quiet about him and push him in the background, he will he will also keep quiet about you and push you in the background. ‘Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven’ (Matt 10:32-33 NIV).
How does God describe his love for us? God says his love knows no bounds for those whose hearts are turned towards him. ‘… from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children’ (Psalms 103:17). In Jeremiah he told his people, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness’ (Jeremiah 31:3 NAS). He says he deals with us with mercy and compassion like how a father cares for his children’ (Psalms 103: 13NIV). It was because God loved you why he sent his son to die for you and there is nothing can separate you from his love (Romans 8:38-39).
What does God say about the believer? He says that his Holy Spirit lives within you and you belong to him (2 Co. 6: 4). ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price’ (1 Corinthians 6: 20 NIV).
Because you have been bought with a price, you are different, and have been called to separate yourself from the world to live a life that honors him. ‘…you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’ (I Peter 2:9 NIV).
How much then, should we love God? When the lawyer asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus described clearly how much we should love God, or rather the kind of love we should have for God. He said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ (Luke 10:27a NIV). Jesus himself said that he did not do anything of himself; he only did and said what the Father told him.
Therefore if we are true disciples of Christ and our hearts are fully turned towards him, then our faith and love for him should consume us. We should be lost in God, and the things of his Kingdom should take precedence in every area of our life. Talk of him should be at the tip of our tongues, unless we fear ostracism, and as Jesus charged some of the Jewish leaders, we love the praise of men more than the praise of God. Or for some of us perhaps it is similar to the case of the rich young ruler. We are not willing to sell our goods and give to the poor because we have too much to sell.
Whatever prevents you from talking about your belief in God has become your god. What is it for you?
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