We are called to both display and make private our faith in Christ.
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“But when you pray, go away by yourself,
shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.
Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:6 New Living Translation
There is a tension between what God calls us to do in the public square and what he calls us to do behind closed doors. Our times of intimacy with God are not the business of others. I would not think of having an intimate conversation with Janice at McDonald’s. In the same way God intends that those intimate times with him ought to be held behind closed doors. In fact, Jesus says that such a conversation with God will receive a reward, and I don’t think he meant an extra hundred dollars in your bank account.
In the same Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus calls us to pray behind closed doors, he also says,
“In the same way,
let your good deeds shine out for all to see,
so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
Matthew 5:16 New Living Translation
We cannot claim that we should live our faith only in the privacy of our homes. God calls us to let our good deeds shine in the world because they reflect his character. We show compassion to the broken, care for the poor, and listen to the suffering because this is what Christ did. It is what attracted people to the shore of Galilee, the coast lands of the Mediterranean, and even the Temple courts in Jerusalem. Our actions speak louder than our lips. It is our actions that bring praise to our heavenly Father.
We are not called to either the privacy of locked doors or the public display of our faith. God has called us to both. This call produces tension, but tension that is at the heart of relationship with God.
Copyright Douglas P Brauner