One of the best compliments I received was a co-worker refusing my help on her injury-on- duty report. How is this a compliment? She refused my help based on me being a Christian and assuming I would not lie in the report. She was right — I wouldn’t have lied. She chose to have other co-workers give an eye witness report (that they didn’t see) to make her case stronger. This may have been the first time since I was “born again” that someone acknowledged that my moral code is of high standards based on being a Christian. I have to say it felt really good!
I revel in moments like this because I know it’s pleasing to God. Unfortunately, I don’t get these moments as often as I would like or should be getting them. If I am a follower of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t this be obvious to the world? We are told in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Am I being transformed because of the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for me? Are you? Or are we blending in with unbelievers so there is no distinction between us?
Jesus tells believers that we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” We are not to lose our flavor, our preservation, nor hide our light. He tells us, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew5:16). In essence we become a walking testimony for Christ by our loving actions. But are we up for this calling? Have some of us become closet Christians, hiding our light?
You may be a closet Christian if…
- People are shocked when they find out you are one. None of your actions have shown them otherwise. In fact, you may have hidden it so well that they think you’re an atheist, Buddhist or maybe just a jerk!
- You never mention Christ or the Bible. Afterall, you don’t want to offend anybody.
- You read your Bible but only in private. Or, if out in public, you camouflage the cover so that no one sees Holy Bible written across it. You don’t want to appear weird.
- You conveniently omit “I’m going to church” when asked what your plans are for Sunday morning. That is, if you go to church at all. Some closet Christians may watch it online or take in no service at all.
- You participate in less-than-honorable activities: telling dirty or racist jokes, getting drunk, sleeping around, stealing from the company…maybe just to fit in with what your peers are doing. You can always ask for repentance in the morning.
- You never speak “Christianese.” The phrases “I’m blessed,” “I’ll pray for you,” “God will provide” never leave your tongue.
- You never tune into the Christian radio station you have preset while others are in the car. You don’t want to run the risk they’ll be preached at during the ride or hear songs that are just so uplifting!
- When running into church members or people from Bible study you make up a story to your non-Christian friends on how you know them.
- When asked why you wear a cross around your neck you shrug and say, “It’s just jewelry,” “It was a gift,” “I just like it.” It’s just easier than making it into a discipling moment.
- When someone labels you a Christian, you are sure to let them know you’re not “one of those” types of Christian or that’s what you were raised.
So if any of these ring true with you, you may be a closet Christian.
What’s the real reason you’re hiding your faith?
Looking at the above list we can narrow down what they all have in common: fearing how others perceive us. We feel we need to assimilate to what the cultural norm is lest we risk being alienated in social, political or professional circles. Jesus talked about the Pharisees “loving the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43). Do we care more about what other people think about us rather than our Holy Father—the one who literally can give us life or death? Jesus assured us that as followers we will experience persecution for His sake and will be hated by all because of His name. (Mark 13:13) That’s sure to make you lock yourself in that closet, huh? But there is a reward for all of this: the Kingdom of Heaven!
How to come out of the closet?
You don’t have to go around like a town crier with bell in hand shouting “Hear ye, hear ye—I am a Christian!” But why not let others know you are not ashamed to be a Christ follower by being a “light in the world?” I love the song line, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…” This perhaps is the best testimony to Christ — showing love to others. This is the commandment He gave to all of us — to love one another just as He has loved us.
So take the examples given earlier and use them for opportunities to talk about your faith. Read your Bible sans camouflage and explain what the cross means to you. Live your life in such a manner that others will see a higher standard in you. Let your light shine in such a way that they will wonder what you have that they don’t. It is the joy that comes from knowing you are saved and that the God of the universe loves you! Be different, Christian, for you have been called for a higher purpose.
Chris Alexander is a freelance writer, traveler, mixed media artist, and songwriter. Check out her ‘GuitArt’ at www.MusicArtLove.com