Scripture: Mark 4:21-34
Key verse: (22) “For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.”
Reflection: There is a difference between personal faith and private faith, though we tend to use those terms interchangeably.
Personal faith has to do with believing that following Christ is all about being in healed, whole relationships – with God and with others. Faith isn’t so much about believing the right set of doctrines, or checking enough good deeds off your list to be considered in good standing. It is a way of life that is rooted in trusting a living God, whom we can know, and talk to, and learn from – and letting this animate the way we live in relationship with all of God’s children. When we talk about a personal faith, we are talking about our ability to be in direct relationship with God without the need for an intermediary. It is the ability to call God, as Jesus did, by the intimate name, “Abba, which means, “Daddy.”
A problem arises when we say “personal” and mean “private” faith. Private faith is something we don’t talk much about, something we are more prone to hide than to share. Private faith is something we do quietly on Sundays, and then shelve for the rest of the week as we let other values determine our steps. Private faith is secret faith, and therefore not much help to the world. It is like a light that is hidden under a basket, or underneath the bed like out of season clothing. It doesn’t make much sense.
God calls us to personal, but not private, faith. The good news is that you don’t have to stand on the street corners and shout about your faith to move it from being something “private” to something “personal.” You don’t have to be rude, or preachy, or judgmental to share your trust in a living and loving God with others (and, actually, it doesn’t make sense to do so). You don’t have to dismiss the differing faith of others (or lack thereof, even). Living a personal faith in Christ means seeking to love others as he has loved you (remember 1 John 4?). It means cultivating relationships that are marked by grace, forgiveness, patience, and love with people who sometimes do not deserve it, because you know God has cultivated a relationship with you when you didn’t deserve it either. We all do this in different ways, according to the gifts God gives to us. Thanks be to God for that!
Prayer: Dear God, give me the courage to love others as you have loved me, so that my life might be a reflection of my relationship with you. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].