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Friday, June 17, 2011

.Jesus Died for our Privacy....or Not.

I have lots of thoughts swirling on this concept of privacy and living biblically.

Are we called to live a life of privacy?

Are we entitled to privacy?

What does the Bible say about privacy?

I have been thinking through this issue of privacy for about a year now, and Jim and I have talked about it extensively. I admit that when left to my own nature, I like to be a private person, but I am starting to wonder if that is actually my sin nature.



In the culture we are living, in America, in this time period, it seems to me that we are living as some of the most private people in all of the world throughout all time. I am no exception. We live in a neighborhood surrounded by houses, and we have lived here for over three years. Our family only knows the names of one other family on our whole street. This never would have been the case in Bible times and in the ancient world. It's not even the case for many other countries in the world today. We saw that first hand in Ethiopia. Life is about living in community for those cultures. At the same time, we are living in a culture and time period in which our every move and thought can be documented on social media, and we can choose to live in a way that people in the past and people of other countries cannot even fathom living. It's an odd mix.

When searching the Bible, I have not found anything that indicates that I am to live a secret life, as an island, with my family. I understand the culture was different, but the Bible continues to be my guiding point. I keep running into passages like this.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible. Ephesians 5:11-13

It seems that this verse is actually warning believers that secrecy and privacy can lead to a life that does not bring glory to God.

And then there is this one.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

This verse seems to be calling believers out to live their lives publicly in front of others - even maybe the things that we think should be private - i.e. good works. This could very easily mean that we are to expose our families, our finances, our prayer requests and needs etc. Jesus actually says that when we live publicly we are bringing glory to God! This goes against every part of my introverted heart and the way I was raised, BUT here it is plain as day in the Bible.

My husband has been called to be a pastor, and in that I have been called to be a pastor's wife. The biblical qualifications and regulations placed on Jim, because he is a pastor, are huge.

The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop [pastor] desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way– for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. I Timothy 3:1-7

When I look through this passage I am blown away at how many qualifications seem to be private matters (according to our culture - yes, even church culture - today). If we are supposed to live our lives privately, though, how would the body of Christ know if Jim was meeting these qualifications? I am starting to get the feeling that I am called (because I am a believer and even more specifically because I am a pastor's wife) to live a transparent, authentic and open life in front of others, and that God never intended us to barricade our lives from our brothers and sisters in Christ. For one thing we are to function as a family, as a unit, as a part of the whole - that is what God has called us to be.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. I Corinthians 1:26

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

These passages are not the only ones that touch on our life together as a body of Christ; there are many others that touch on it as well. (I Corinthians 6:15-20, I Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 1:8, Ephesians 6:4, James 5:16, etc.) I believe that God intended for His believers to live in an authentic community where the intimate details of our lives are exposed to one another. How can anyone rejoice with me or weep with me if they are not invited into my private life?

Privacy gives us the ability to hide our lives from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Because of privacy we can keep secret our struggles, our sin problems, our joys, our victories, our pain. We can isolate ourselves from the very people God predestined to walk life with us. We can keep private the very areas of our life where we need the help and accountability of God's people. I am starting to think that privacy is posion within the body of Christ.

I am going to be bold and may be hitting an emotionally charged issue, but I feel as if it is one that needs to be talked about. I truly think that many believers are living their lives way too privately. This privacy keeps them disconnected from the body of Christ and the abundant life Jesus died for them to have. I was guilty of this for years. I still struggle with the desire to not live authentically - to hide my pains, my fears, my short comings - and to isolate myself from others, but I am beginning to understand the freedom and even joy that comes from living my life openly.

I am also starting to see that if I want to glorify God with my life I do not have a choice about living privately. God did not call me to a life of isolation, and I need my brothers and sister in Christ.

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