April 5, 2014
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:18-20
Comedians are people who get you to laugh by saying funny things.
Over the years I've run into many people who think they are comedians when it comes to their faith. One of the lines these imaginary comedians love to say goes something like "I don't have to go to church on Sunday. I know what I believe and that's enough. After all, faith is a private matter between me and God, isn't it?"
I know they think they're being funny because, almost always, they say those words with a smile, a wink, and a chuckle.
At first, when people said such things to me, I replied with a scowling, "Where did you get that idea? That's just about the silliest thing I've ever heard." My response was neither welcomed nor appreciated. More often than not it ended the conversation.
So now when people say their faith is a private matter, I agree with them and say, "You know, I've looked through the Bible, and I've found a fair number of people who agree with you."
When they say, "Really? Who?" I am free to share:
1. "Well, there was Moses. He didn't want to go to talk to Pharaoh about freeing God's people."
2. "Then there was Jonah. He didn't want to be pushy and tell the folks of Nineveh about their sin."
3. "Of course, there were the disciples who, after Jesus' crucifixion, kept themselves locked away."
4. "And there were the Jewish leaders who told the apostles to keep their faith to themselves."
The reaction usually is something like "I didn't know that."
And, of course, it's true. All of those folks thought their faith was a private thing.
The only problem with their thinking was God didn't agree. Then I tell the fellow who wants to keep his faith private, "Of course, you should know, God shot down all of Moses' excuses and sent him to Egypt. The Lord used a miracle to turn Jonah around and preach words of repentance. The disciples were eventually given the Holy Spirit, and they couldn't stop talking about Jesus. Indeed, when the Jewish leaders told them to be quiet, they said, 'We have to tell other people about what we've seen and heard.'"
The last things I share are these: "My friend, you are a believer because -- for 2,000 years -- people have shared Jesus' story. They hand copied the Bible, so others could read the story. They sent missionaries to your ancestors; they paid for pastors and teachers to publicly and regularly tell others how they can be saved."
I finish with, "Of course, I could be wrong. Can you tell me where in the Bible you've heard the Lord say, 'Don't go and teach the Gospel' and 'Don't baptize them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,' and 'Be sure not to teach them everything I have commanded'?"
Of course, they can't do that, and then the Holy Spirit has them.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for all those through the centuries who shared the Savior's story of salvation. Now, in my time, may I do the same. Bless that story so others may hear and believe in the Savior who died to redeem us. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries