Friday, 31 October 2014

Expressing your Christian Identity

How do people express their identity? Very often it is by the clothes they wear, or the people they associate with. Other methods are the ways that a person acts, through the sports club they support and of course the things that they say and do.

When someone suppresses their identity it can be a very frustrating experience. This means that a person desperately wants people to see their real identity, but feels for some reason that they have to hide it. An obvious reason for this could be related to fear of what they perceive could happen. I have read that in some Muslim countries when a person openly converts to Christianity their life expectancy is very often cut short.

May I present a challenge in asking how you express your own Christian identity? Are you a person who suppresses it in some way? For some, this is an easy question to answer, whereas others may find it more difficult.

We have a great example from Scripture where Paul says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1: 16

The Psalmist also wrote, “My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long.” Psalms 75:15

I believe that both these scriptures clearly point out that when it comes to letting people where we stand, we are to express our Christian faith, rather than suppress it.

Some Christians find it effortless to demonstrate their beliefs through the way that they act and the things that they say. For example, when it comes to gossiping they will simply but firmly say, “I am sorry, but I don’t speak ill of others.” Or when a conversation comes up on spiritual matters at work, with family or friends, they seize that opportunity to nail their colours firmly to the mast and witness for Jesus.

What should you do if you have been suppressing your faith? Firstly, discover the reasons for it. Is it due to fear of rejection, ridicule or damaging relationships? Or are there other reasons such as a lack of confidence in sharing or because of thinking that you may not be able to answer questions? Perhaps for some the reason is that they prefer to be “Sunday Christians” so that they can be accepted by those around them.

Key Point: God doesn’t want you to suppress your faith, but rather to express it through your words, actions and deeds.

Jesus commanded us to be witnesses for Him. There is no doubting this: He said to them,Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”.  Mark 16: 15

We are not meant to hide our faith but let people see the reality of it through the way we act, speak and the things that we do. The scriptures leave no room for doubt.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”(.) Matthew 5: 16.

This comes back to a combination of lifestyle evangelism and being a proactive believer.  In my early days as a Christian I was taught by my Pastor, who was an evangelist, that as Christians we can make opportunities for the Gospel.  This can be in the form of an invitation or sharing of your testimony of salvation or even sharing the Gospel

The definitions of the words express and suppress are very interesting particularly when applied to making our Christian identities known.

Express: Convey in words or by gestures and conduct

Suppress: To keep from being revealed

If you are easily able to express your Christian identity it is really great news. If you find this area of your walk challenging, you will need to pray and ask the Lord for courage. I can speak from experience and tell you that He will answer if you do. After all, His desire is to communicate the Gospel of truth and the atoning death of His Son through you. What an honour!

Ask the Lord to help you and guide you. If you do you can be reassured of one thing. Scripture says:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 13

You could pray a simple prayer like this: “Lord, I ask you to help me to express my identity in Christ so that it is clear and evident for all to see. Send people who don’t know you as Lord into my path and help me to share my faith and bring honour and glory to You in Jesus’ name. Amen”

Be Blessed!