Forcing Faith

“I don’t want to force my religion on anyone.”

This phrase is often heard in society, and I used to live by it. I used to avoid wearing clothing that proclaimed my faith and I passed up many opportunities to talk about God, especially at college, because I wanted unbelievers to feel comfortable around me. I wanted people to see Christ in me through my behavior and speech, not my attire. But those weren’t the real reasons I chose to live by this phrase. I lived by it because I wanted to be comfortable—because I was afraid.

I was convicted about this when I came home from working at a Christian camp this summer. I brought a lot of t-shirts back with me, so I started to choose the ones I wanted to keep, and, while doing so, made a comment to one of my siblings.

Me: Oh, I don’t like this one.

Sibling: Why not?

Me: Well, it has a big “Jesus” on it, so I’d feel weird about wearing it at school…

Sibling: Then maybe you need to.

They were right. I realized that I had been living in fear, scared of what people would think of me. I had been worried because I knew I’d look different in our culture which is full of those who are determined to be politically correct.

But then I realized something else. There are plenty of people at my school who proclaim their beliefs—Muslims with their clothing, atheists with their posters in the quad, unsaved professors with their opinions—and I think that’s cool. Even though I’m sad that they aren’t Christians, I admire that they are so bold, and I am convicted of the fact that I am not.

I hope it’s clear that I don’t have a problem with Christians who don’t wear the clothing I’m talking about or who don’t talk about Jesus at every opportunity. I just wonder this: what is their reasoning? If it’s anything like mine, maybe they ought to reevaluate their decision.

Now that I’ve learned all of this, I’m trying to be more bold about my faith, but it’s hard. I fail miserably—a lot—and I look around to find that many unbelievers are far more open and more vocal about their beliefs than I am.

Take Mark Gatiss, for example, who plays “Mycroft” in the popular British television show, Sherlock. I follow Gatiss on Twitter, and he frequently tweets about anti-gay movements around the world because he is strongly pro-gay. He believes in equality and rights for homosexuals, and proclaims this belief proudly. Why am I not doing the same with my own?

What we believe is what we talk about. What we love is how we live. It just comes out. So, what does it mean when Christ isn’t coming out of a Christian? It means the problem lies within the heart.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit…A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Luke 6: 43-45

I have a heart problem. I love many things substantially more than God, and this is one of the biggest reasons I am afraid of proclaiming my faith.

Maybe you’ve realized you have a heart problem, too. Well, it’s possible to start trying to love God more right now, but it isn’t something you’ll be able to do on your own. I talked about relying on God in my post “Until the Very End“, and the same thing applies here. Just remember that God will help you if you really try, and that he has promised this:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20b

Also, you may have to change some things about your lifestyle. Why? The passage from Luke that I just quoted said that good or evil is “stored up in [a person’s] heart”. Everything in that storage space gets there by what a person watches, listens to, and spends time with. You may have to examine what you’re storing in your heart and change some things. It won’t be fun and it won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

Would you pray for me as I keep fighting this battle? Would you consider thinking about what you love, wear, do, and say? We can do this—even if it takes much longer than we’d like. Let’s both work harder to love Christ and live like him.

P.S. I know this post wasn’t very geeky (although I did mention Sherlock!). I’ll try to write geekier posts, and I do hope you’ll come to forgive me!

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