Summary: When we come to Christ, we are called to "go public" with that comittment.
"Hugging Jesus" - Matthew 10:32,33
In 1990, centerfielder Brett Butler left the San Francisco Giants as a free agent. He was loved in San Francisco, and rightly so. He was a great player. But the best offer came from the L.A. Dodgers - their cross state rivals. Early in the season, when the two teams met, Butler was the center of attention. He was well loved by his former team, and they were playing at their ball park in San Francisco. When the line ups were being announced and the players introduced, the crowd roared as Butler, their former player was announced. The people still loved him, even in a Dodger uniform. Perhaps they felt he was still a Giant at heart.
Brett Butler did something interesting at that point. When he heard the response of the crowd, he walked up to his new manager, Tommy Lasorda, and hugged him, in front of the thousands of Giants fans that filled the stadium. Instantaneously, the cheers began to turn to boos and insults.
After the game, he was asked by the press why he did that. Brett Butler replied, "It turned a page in my career. I’m an L.A. Dodger now; I’m not a Giant. That just kind of solidified it." I wanted them to know I’m a Dodger."
You know, when a person becomes a Christian, in one way or another, they need to "hug Jesus" in the sight of their family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances. They need to make it clear in their circle of influence who they belong to now. You see, just like the crowd thought that Brett Butler was still a Giant at heart, even though he had on a Dodger uniform, people often look at a Christian and think, "they’re still a good ole’ boy - still one of us." Nothing has really changed. It’s ok that they call themselves a Christian, it doesn’t really change anything."
The truth is, though, that if you are a Christian, things have changed, and radically. Your loyalties have changed, your allegiance has changed - your priorities have changed. Your love has changed. Life as you know it has changed! It is important to make that life change public. Because when the world thinks that "nothing has really changed," some bad things happen. When a disciple of Jesus tries to live as a closet Christian, something is very wrong.
Here is what Jesus said about this matter. In Matthew 10:32,33 - "If anyone acknowledges Me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before My Father in heaven. But if anyone denies Me here on earth, I will deny that person before My Father in heaven."
I. How We Sometimes Hide Our Faith
A. Compartmentalizing our faith.
- Mark 12:30 - "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength."
- We like to think we have God in our pocket.
- Wilbur Rees once wrote sarcastically, "I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please."
In other words, the idea of wholesale commitment to the cause of Christ needs to be kept in its proper bounds - right? We want the benefits of a relationship with God and the promise of heaven, but we would like to stay in control of things - not look too silly.
B. Diminishing our commitment.
Authentic Christians, Jesus says, are sold out - out of control - have gone public with it all. Jesus calls it in another place "buying the pearl of great price."
That story is found in Matthew 13:46. Juan Carlos Ortiz expounded on this parable one time. I like the way it unfolds.
"I want this pearl here. How much is it?"
" Well," the seller says, "it’s very expensive."
"But how much?"
"Well, a very large amount."
"Look, I like this pearl. It’s the finest I’ve seen. I want it. Do you think I could buy it?"
"Oh, of course, everyone can buy it."
"But, didn’t you say it was very expensive?"
"Well, how much is it?"
"Everything you have," says the seller.
He ponders for a moment and says, "All right, I’ll buy it."
"Well, what do you have - let’s write it down."
"Well, I have about ten thousand dollars in the bank."