One of the things that I find most disappointing is that there seem to be so few Christians who have a desire to share their faith. I am sure there are many reasons why this is true – perhaps one that is often overlooked is that many Christians share little because they have little to share!
I will always remember a delightful story told by a friend of mine a number of years ago…
A small girl was sitting in church next to her mother. At a point in the service the minister announced that it was time to pray. The girl was astonished to see that everybody in the church bowed forward and closed their eyes. As she watched this happen she turned to her mother and noticed that she had done the same, her eyes were firmly closed as well!
‘Mummy’ she said in a loud whisper. Her mother did not reply so she said again in an even louder whisper ‘Mummy’. There was still no response, so she said in a voice that could no longer be described as a whisper ‘Mummy’ she also pulled at her mother’s sleeve to ensure that Mummy would not fail to respond.
The mother opened her eyes and put her finger over her mouth “ssshhh” she said
But the little girl persisted and again said ‘Mummy’.
Now afraid that everybody in the church would hear her daughter and be distracted, the mothers said in a gentle voice “What is it?”
‘Mummy’, the little girl said, now whispering again, ‘Who are we all hiding from?’
I love this story because I get such a vivid picture of the event happening as this little girl asks such an innocent question. Like so many innocent questions that children ask, this one may have a meaning far deeper than she had ever intended! Let me explain.
For so many of us, church is a place where we find it very difficult to be ourselves. Lurking somewhere inside us is the feeling that we are perhaps not quite living up to God’s required standard so, rather than be truly open to Him and to others we put on something of an act and ‘hide’ behind the various activities that form part of the worship event. It is not too difficult to join in with these and give the impression that everything is just fine.
The result of this is that we may frequently leave church without having confronted the real issues, temptations and sins that we are dealing with. We leave without being transformed because we have not been transparent before God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. The result of this is that our witness to the difference that Jesus is making in our lives can become very weak and, at worst, mean that people outside of the church see no difference in us at all.
If we are to be effective witnesses then it is crucial that we don’t hide, not just from others, but from God!