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Listen up Christian blogging people, I must speak to something that makes me crazy, something I empathize with and yet I cannot condone.  It’s happened about a dozen times now, I’ve read a comment about how you “don’t want religion on your blog,” or “let’s not mention Christ, that tends to drive readers away,” or “I wish to be inclusive.”

Christian blogging people. I don’t want to sound harsh here, but we claim Christ’s name, we declare ourselves to be Christians, and yet we fear that any other mention of our faith might be perceived as exclusive, as impolite, as turning people off? Like Christ is my label but I find Him a bit embarrassing?

So we’re hiding in the closet, praying in secret, afraid to be seen by men? That’s a mangled reference to Matthew 6:1-8, by the way.

I read yet another comment that really pushed my buttons, that said, “let’s leave our faith in church where it belongs and talk about real life now.” Whoever wrote that, Nameless Internet Person, you just shoved bamboo shoots under my finger nails. I felt that one right in the gut and have now developed a little twitch over my right eye.

Our faith does not belong in church, it belongs in the middle of the street, it belongs in every aspect of our lives, it is our real life.

I do empathize. I have spent some 30 years quietly hiding in the closet, keeping my faith to myself, basically trying to avoid offending anyone. My family is made up of mostly evangelizing atheists, we don’t talk faith much. I live in a pretty secular state, in a county that ranks number two or three in the nation for non affiliated, non believers. I can count the number of times I have seen anyone pray in public outside of church, on one hand.

I like to be inclusive too, I like to not offend, I like to be accommodating. The problem is, we will pay a price for that. We are not being true to ourself or true to Jesus Christ. Without even noticing, I soon turned off my praise music, I stopped talking about faith to anyone, I was careful to never mention the bible, there were no religious bumper stickers on my car. I made sure I went to church in another town.

I really was having this somewhat shameful, illicit affair with Jesus Christ, one I kept totally behind closed doors, praying in the closet, worshiping in another town. A clandestine affair, filled with shame and secrecy.

One day at work, I was serving a cranky woman who finds my faith very offensive and my cross slipped out of my sweater. She spotted it immediately and demanded I take it off while I was working for her. I actually apologized, how pathetic is that? I proceeded to take it off for her, when suddenly the gates of heaven themselves opened up and bellowed down at me, Just what do you think you are you doing??

I kid you not, it was a very dramatic, supernatural  experience, made all the more profound by some genuine Charlton Heston thunder rocking the whole house at that very moment.

The amount of conviction that hit me all at once was absolutely astounding, it just rained down like the deluge the thunder had brought with it. Deny me and I’ll deny you, that simple, that clear, there was a choice that had to be made immediately in that very moment.

I barely croaked out a, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t take it off for you,” before the cranky woman told me to get out, my epic adventure in standing up for my faith about as impressive as trying to prop up a strand of soggy pasta, but it changed everything, it rocked my whole world.

It was a profound moment, a moment I so clearly heard God speak directly to me, not so gently, not so quietly, but with such power that I had to take a couple of weeks off of work to recover. I wanted so badly to tell them the truth, to just tell them that the gates of heaven had actually opened up and yelled at me, but of course one doesn’t speak honestly about such things in mixed company.

I do declare however, that not only is God very real, He does not like to play second fiddle in our lives and we are not supposed to be conducting an illicit affair with Him. It becomes more and more challenging as the world becomes less and less friendly about it, but you must stand, no matter how poorly, no matter how small.