Personal, Not Private

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and . . . He went around doing good . . . (Acts 10:38)

To be a disciple of Christ is to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him, and to submit and surrender to Him personally. But let me quickly add that all of this — all of our relationship with Jesus Christ — is to be lived out publicly, not privately. We are never to say, “It’s Jesus and me, not Jesus and we!”

I often remind our congregation that inasmuch as we are saved individually, we are saved to community. Not only that, the community that we have been saved to is a community that has been called to carry out a cosmic mission to go into all the world and make disciples of every nation. Yes, our salvation and being a disciple of Christ is indeed personal — Jesus has numbered every hair on our heads and knows our prayers even before we utter them (Matthew 10:30, 6:8) — but our gracious, saving God does not intend for our faith to be a private affair.

Do you remember when Jesus appeared on the beach after His resurrection and reinstated Peter for ministry? Notice the language Jesus used:

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” [Peter] said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)

Jesus asked Peter the same question a total of three times: “Do you love me?” After Peter responded in the affirmative each time, effectively erasing his three craven denials of Jesus the night before His crucifixion, Jesus them commanded Peter to make his love for Him known. The love that Peter had for Jesus, a love which had started out personally by the Sea of Galilee some three years earlier, was never to be lived out privately. “Feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. “Feed my sheep.”

The same command has been given to every disciple of Christ. As the Reformers would say, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He made it clear that loving God is at the top of the list. But He did not stop there; He went on to share the second commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-31). Beloved, we simply cannot live out what Jesus commands by keeping our faith private!

So, in looking at how you are living out your faith today, would it best be described as, “Jesus and me” or “Jesus and we”? The unbelieving world insists that our religion should be a “private matter,” and it wants Christians to keep their faith hidden away within the walls of the church building. But this is not what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Follow me.” Jesus had an intensely personal and private connection with His Father in heaven, which we see in the many instances of His time spent alone in prayer. But He lived that loving connection out publicly for the glory of God and the good of the people.

Jesus went around doing good. May this be the confession of our lives.  

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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