ISSUES OF FAITH: Don’t be afraid to speak of your faith

AND WHEN THEY had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.

Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him” (Luke 22:55-57).

Are you familiar with the term “to ghost someone?”

This term describes the actions of a person who, perhaps after a date, stops answering phone calls, responding to texts and without notice, simply disappears from the other person.

This happens with dating couples, but also between employer and employee, church member and pastor, and even between family members.

Recently, I was told that this is a millennial generation phenomena, but I have to disagree.

This pattern of “writing others off,” “giving someone the cold shoulder” or “acting like someone doesn’t exist,” has been around for a very long time.

The text above describes a time it even happened to our Lord.

“Woman, I do not know him.”

For three years Peter sat at the feet of Jesus. Peter was there when Christ healed the blind (John 9), calmed the storm (Matthew 8:26), and fed the 5,000 (Mark 6:41-44).

He stood with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and heard the voice from heaven, “This is my son” (Luke 9:35).

He watched as the palms waved as the shouts of “Hosanna” rang out as Christ entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).

The Lord even entered Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14).

But in the matter of a split second, Peter was ready to “ghost” the one whom he, just hours before this fateful scene, vowed that he would go to prison for or even die for (Luke 22:33).

I consider myself extremely blessed. I have a career where people expect me to talk about my faith.

This is true whether I am making small talk with a perfect stranger who was assigned the seat next to me on a plane or talking to the nurses when I am being admitted to the hospital.

The topic of Jesus becomes front and center after they ask the simple question, “What do you do for a living?”

The roadblocks preventing me from sharing my faith, that the average person faces, are not there for me.

But maybe you are one who is told that you can’t talk about your faith at work or that you can’t ask to pray with your clients.

Or perhaps your roadblocks aren’t that pronounced.

Are they found in a feeling you get, an unspoken rule, or just something that wouldn’t be taken well by your supervisors or the business your work for?

It could be that your biggest roadblock is none of that but fear itself.

Fear of saying the wrong thing, offending or appearing to be a “Jesus freak.”

The world presses in as the woman did to Peter in the courtyard, breathing fear into his heart and mind, to the point where he did the unthinkable, he denied knowing Jesus.

You should never be put in a position where you are not allowed to be who you are in Christ or be shamed into silence.

This lesson we try to impress on our children as they talk with their friends, confront the errors found in the teachings they are exposed to, but then we drop them off at school and we submit to those same pressures as we enter the world ourselves.

This world tries to get us to think that our belief in Christ is tantamount to our preference of pizza topping, instead of what it is, a way of life that permeates our heart and mind as we love the Lord.

Being a Christian changes the way you value life, cherish relationships, understand your role in creation, and informs your decisions and priorities.

It also teaches that you are not God and that truth comes from him alone.

It is true that Peter did the unimaginable by denying knowing Christ.

However, that wasn’t the end of his story.

Close to where he denied knowing the Lord would be where he soon lifted up his voice and delivered the sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2:14).

He would be used to heal a beggar in the name of Jesus instead of simply offering him gold or silver (Acts 3:6).

All of this because the Lord, after his being betrayed, murdered and raised, returned to Peter and asked, “Do you love me?”

Similarly, our Lord moves to you constantly through his word and restores you.

He feeds your faith and he equips you to stand as his child in this place and time (1 Peter 5:10).

This is true regardless of the roadblocks the world would try to put in your way.

I am not telling you to be Peter or have the charisma of Billy Graham.

Simply be honest with yourself, with your co-workers and those in your life about your faith.

Make it known by word and deed.

Let them know you are not afraid to say, “I am a Christian! I know my savior!”

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Patrick Lovejoy is minister of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected]

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