We are called to be set apart. We are called to be different; to be a peculiar race. We aren’t meant to be of this world and we are supposed to display the hope that is within us outwardly. We are, ourselves, the vessels of the Gospel and we are supposed to draw the curiosity of unbelievers. But when exactly, when we are in this world, interacting with new people, are we supposed to launch and display our Jesus freak flag? How do we prevent curiosity from turning into crazy Christianity that everyone easily dismisses? When do we set ourselves apart?
I can easily attest that my non-believing friends know where I stand when it comes to the Gospel. They know how we are different and have heard why I challenge the norm of society. They know that I am in love with Jesus. They know that even with all the similarities we share, there is something that makes us different. I do not shy away from sharing Christ with those I share my time and life with. It is not something that I am confused about or troubled about. I am very open about the faith that saved me, so much so that even those acquaintances, those friends of friends, pretty much know about the C-word that describes Mark and I, even if they don’t exactly understand it.
But my question is, in those interactions where we keep the personal side of ourselves fairly well hidden, when do we thrust up our freak flags and declare ourselves an island set apart, and when do we keep quiet…at least for the time being. Last week I was on a business trip. The purpose of the trip was for long arduous training seminars, but also to network with others in our organization from across the country. I can say that I learned a lot in the training seminars, but just as much from my colleagues who had bundles of knowledge wrapped up in their own experiences. Being the only person from my chapter at the training, I spent a lot of time with new acquaintances. And to the naked eye, there was not much different among us. I interacted professionally during the training seminars, in our free evenings, I partook in a glass of wine with my colleagues and took in as much of San Francisco as we had time and energy to do. None of us used inappropriate language; there was no gossip (there was a whole heck of a lot of business talk). There were jokes and talks about family and work history. We are enthusiastic about our work and easily enjoyed each others company. In this type of setting, there was nothing that I did that would have set myself apart; there was nothing that screamed Christian. Should I have tried to find a way to steer the conversation toward Christ in order to spread the Gospel? Should I have let everyone know that I had packed my own personal Bible for evening devotional reading that I never got around to? Or was it prudent on this 4-day business trip to start relationships with a modicum of mystery? Would it have hindered or enabled the Gospel of Christ to squeeze Him into a fundraising training session?
At what point do you let the Jesus cat out of the bag? Are there ever occasions when it is appropriate to hold back on the Gospel? Or are we just being cowardly and not following God’s will when we don’t overtly insert Him into our business training sessions?