Summary: Our desire to keep it secret that we are Christians will have to be revised when we receive joy from a redemptive fellowship. when we become informed about our faith, and when we learn to live conscious of the presence of Christ.
Before I begin, I do have some instructions for our ushers. Can I get the ushers to help us make sure we are truly ready for this experience?
First, gentlemen, please make sure all the windows are sealed tight. We don’t want any sound to seep out to the outside world.
And then will you please lock all the doors, so that no intruders get in? We don’t want to be discovered, so let’s lock all the doors.
Now, if you will, turn down the sound system, to make sure that not only do my words not get out, but also, just in case someone should voice a word of praise or utter as a syllable of thanksgiving, it would not be heard.
I would ask you to turn down the lights, but we never have too much light in here!
Don’t be alarmed. I am just helping us keep our little secret. If we secure the building, and then maybe hunker down in the pews, no one will ever know our awful secret.
For we do have a secret, you know. There is something of which we are a bit ashamed, and we’d rather not let it out. There is a secret we share, but if we’re just as careful as we’ve always been, our secret will be safe.
We can whisper it in here, however. We can at least acknowledge it inside these closed doors. The secret is .. we’re Christians. We’re Christians; or at least, fellow-travelers. We’ve gone to church today, in secret. Better be careful, lest somebody find out.
Why, if our business associates and fellow workers knew we were Christians, they would expect us to do business in a different way. If our neighbors knew we were Christians, they would expect us to work on community problems. If our tax accountants knew we were Christians, they’d figure out how much our tithes would be. If our fellow students at school even suspected we were Christians, they wouldn’t include us in the drinking parties and the girl watching or boy-baiting sessions. It’s important to keep it a secret that we are Christians.
So let’s rehearse far a moment the techniques we can use to keep the cat from being let out of the bag. Let’s remind ourselves how to keep the secret.
First, even though you may go to church, don’t carry a Bible, unless it is a very small one. If you drive to church, don’t you dare put any of those tacky Jesus bumper stickers on your car. Your secret will be safe.
And then, if it isn’t Sunday, and you are dressing to go out shopping, you want to wear something casual .. whatever you do, do not, do not wear a Takoma Park Baptist Church T-shirt. That just invites attention. If you’re in the grocery store and you see somebody else from the church .. never, never talk about the church, because someone might overhear. Never, never talk about God, Jesus, the Bible, Sunday School. In fact, I guess you’d do better not to say anything at all. Who are you and why are you greeting me?
And then when you get outside and somebody asks you if you can spare a little change, here’s what you do … let’s practice. You look over the other way at anything that catches your eye, and if you must speak, you just say "MMMMMMG". Come on now, let’s practice. Look somewhere, say, "MMMMMMG". You’ve got it! Your secret is still safe; they’ll never guess that you are a Christian.
All right. Are we ready now to continue to be secret Christians? Are we all prepared and equipped to make sure that, as one person has put it, if we were on trial for being Christians, there wouldn’t be enough evidence to convict us?
It’s kind of tough, to tell the truth. It’s not all that easy to be secret Christians, because there is something about the Christian faith that wants to come out. There is something that insists on being expressed. It’s hard to hide.
That something is thanksgiving. That something is gratitude. Because of what God does in our lives, we are dangerously likely to respond with thanks and praise. We are close, all the time, to a shout of joy and a song of praise.
I think that’s why Paul, in the short space of a half dozen verses in the Colossian letter, lets loose with a heart of thanks. Paul can hardly contain his own joy, and he really expects that, try as we might, under certain conditions, we are not going to be able to keep ourselves secret Christians. We are going to spill the beans.
Let’s find out what puts our secret in danger:
Under certain conditions we are going to be so grateful, we are going to be so thankful, that we will not be able to contain our joy or hide our allegiance. There will be no secret Christians.