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SHOULD FAITH GO PUBLIC?

Someone reported the following note was posted in the hall of a California high school: “In the event of an earthquake, the Supreme Court ban on prayer in public schools will be temporarily lifted.” That little note reminds us there are times when faith in God becomes extremely important.  Would you pray in the event of an earthquake? In Acts 27 the apostle Paul is praying- not in an earthquake, but on a ship in a terrible storm on the Mediterranean Sea.  For many days the ship Paul is on is driven helplessly on an angry, storm-tossed sea.  Notice at least one lesson which can be drawn from this incident- Paul believed in going public with his faith! After urging all on board to eat, Acts 27:35 reads, “And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat.” In verse 37 Luke adds, “And in all we were two hundred and seventysix persons on the ship.” So far as the inspired record states, Paul, Luke (the writer of Acts), and a brother in Christ named Aristarchus were the only Christians on board the ship (see verses 1 and 2).  Without shame or hesitation, Paul bowed his head and prayed a public prayer in the presence of 273 non-Christians! Were there no people of different religious beliefs on board that ship who might be offended by a Christian praying in public? Yes- 273 of them, and maybe even an atheist or two! But Paul prays anyway! He is compelled to go public with his faith even if in so doing he offends some people!

God does not want the church to be a corp of “secret saints!” Jesus never said, “Go into all the world and do a survey to see if people want to hear the gospel.” Many, many years ago, while opposing the abolition of the slave trade, Lord Melborne said: “Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade public life.” Lord Melborne wanted Christians to stay in the closet and privatize faith to the point it would never be allowed a place in the public marketplace of ideas.  But the Lord Jesus has a radically different idea.  He has commanded His church in every age to go public with the gospel- “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Going public with our faith will almost certainly offend some people.  Not going public will most certainly offend God.  Will you go public with your faith?

Dan Gulley, Evagelist
Smithville Church of Christ