John 7.13 observes no one had the courage to speak favorably about Him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
While watching a popular sports talk show yesterday I noticed the interviewee easily referenced his commitment to God but not to Jesus. As he was wearing a cross around his neck I am assuming he would identify with Christianity as his religion.
This comfort with God and discomfort with Jesus is age-old and helps explain why we are so broken in our current culture.
Christianity is the story of God with us; God has come to us in the Man Jesus to restore us to a personal relationship with God and to prepare a place for us to live eternally with Him. Yet we are embarrassed to identify ourselves with Jesus.
We are fine talking about God because that word is more inclusive to the world but Jesus tightens everything down to one specific God and one specific way to live. Like the people in Jesus’ day who didn’t want to mention Him publicly, we too fear the opinion of the people around us more than we fear the God Who will judge us and determine our eternal destiny. Why is this?
First, it’s a spiritual thing. Jesus is the only true God and as such the spiritual enemies of God are quick to make us feel immensely uncomfortable speaking His Name. All other religions take people to the same destiny, away from the One True God ending in destruction now and forever. Jesus is the Only Name by which humanity can enter heaven so His is the Name that must be spoken by everyone who seeks reconciliation with God.
Second, we have a propensity to fear the opinion of men more than we fear the opinion of God. Since breaking our relationship with God in the garden we have consistently been more concerned by what our neighbor thinks of us than what God thinks of us. Mentioning Jesus causes us to feel like we will end the conversation, turn-off this new relationship, kill the deal, make other people uncomfortable or simply invite people to judge us as religious zealots.
All of these lies we believe in the moment while we hear His small voice inside of us asking us to make Him known to those we are with because they too need a Savior. What is the antidote to our malady of shame and silence?
Lets try to mention the Name of Jesus everyday in as normal, practical, and meaningful way as possible as our day unfolds with the people around us.
We don’t need to force His Name but let’s pray and look for ways to naturally share His Name as we share how Jesus has impacted our lives with those who are still searching for a deeper relationship with God.