This week in Youth Ministry, we put together a message called Secret Church. We blacked out our sanctuary and had nothing more than candlelight with a couple Edison lights going and began to teach the teens about the marvelous freedoms we often take for granted. Such as our freedom to worship in a church each week, while there are people all over the world who literally will be killed for showing up to their secret church. To be honest, this wasn’t my idea, but one a parent had shared with me, and I am so thankful they did. I have never seen our group so quiet and attentive to the stories we told. It was humbling for us all. Even during our worship time, it was beautiful how our kids would sing in the quiet, louder than they did in the light. It was special to watch.
As I was preparing for that this week, God shifted my thought a little. He said to me, “There are people all over the world who live their faith, attend their churches, well knowing they may die for me, but then there are some who have all the freedoms in the world to live boldly for me, and they keep me a secret.” Secret Jesus. Ouch! That hurt my heart, a lot.
But isn’t that so true? We are such a blessed people here in the USA, our freedoms are incredible, we have the world and all it has to offer at our fingertips; we are provided for, blessed with jobs, schools, churches, etc. but we take those blessings, and hide Jesus behind them. We fear what our family, our friends, our coworkers or our classmates may think of us if they knew we were Christians. We hide Jesus behind mindless idols of entertainment, finances, success, sex and power. If we allow people to see Jesus, it takes the eyes off of our accomplishments, or if we allowed people to see Jesus, we may have to set a better example. Guys, gals, what are we doing? There are literally people dying for their faith, and we are worried about the opinions of others, or the fear that God can’t do greater things in our life than we can? I think it’s time we took a step back, took a look at our heart and determine where Jesus’ place is. Is he your dirty little secret? Or is he worth it all?
I told our students Wednesday night, “You often hear people say, ‘if I were forced to choose between life or Jesus, I’d choose Jesus. I’d take a bullet or a sword for him.’ But I say that's not true. If those same people can’t live for him now, how could they ever die for him?”
I don't know where your heart is today, but Jesus came to earth, lived a humble life, took our sins upon his sinless body as punishment for you and for me, died and rose again to conquer death, hell and the grave. And I believe the least we can do to say thank you for such a sacrifice, is to live for him out loud and boldly, not keep him a secret. Secret Jesus is no Jesus at all.
“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” — Acts 4:13.
Downs serves as a young adult/college leader at her church with her husband. She writes faith-based columns in southern Missouri newspapers.