Living in a society that is constantly rejecting God, I find it somewhat difficult to be fully comfortable living out my faith in a public setting. We live in a culture that is generally unaccepting of Christianity, and it is so easy to become ashamed of our faith. I have been tempted at times to run away in embarrassment when confronted about my faith. Recently, however, I have been learning how vital it is for Christians to be unashamed of displaying their faith.
“Go Into the World”
As Christians, we should never apologize for our faith in Christ. Christianity is not just a personal matter. It is meant to be shared. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). As this is a command that came right from Jesus himself, it is imperative that Christians carry this great mission out into the world. In our everyday lives, we have the ability to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how the clergy depend on lay people to evangelize society:
The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church:
Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church.
Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it. (CCC 899-900)
Practically speaking, this proclamation of the gospel is not just through our words. Our actions, lifestyle, and the manner in which we present ourselves can have a strong impact on others. Throughout our lives, we may be put into situations in which we are the only one doing the right thing while everyone else is doing the wrong thing. We must have the courage to go against the societal norm and stick up for Christ when no one else is doing so. This action will bring about a greater awareness of the Gospel.
The Ultimate Example
The martyrs are a prime example of individuals who were not ashamed of their faith. They were courageous to the point of death. When these Christians realized the price that Christ has paid for them, they did not compromise their faith for anyone else. Their faith in Christ made them who they were, and they were not going to allow anyone to convince them otherwise. They died for Christ, as He died for them. When I think of the martyrs, I think of the phrase: “Jesus died for you in public, so don’t only live for him in private”. These saintly people recognized how amazing is it that we have a God that would die for His own creation. They did not want to keep this Good News to themselves. They ardently desired to share it with the entire world. And they shared the Gospel in the most supreme of ways: death.
With these courageous men and women as our example, we should never be ashamed of our faith. We do not have to die a physical death in order to be courageous. We have the ability to be a martyr for Christ every time we stand up for Him in public. Every time we put aside our embarrassment, we are witnesses of Christ’s love. My hope is that someday, all Christians, myself included, will have the same willingness that these martyrs possessed.
Living Our Faith in the Day-to-Day
Am I saying that we should shove religion down people’s throats? Of course not! What I am saying is that we should never be ashamed of displaying our faith in public. We should never feel like we have to apologize for loving God. We do not have to go to the stake and die as the martyrs have done in order to do this. There are small but impactful ways that we can be witnesses of Christ. Whether we are saying grace at the lunch table when no one else is doing so or wearing a Christian t-shirt in public, we are being witnesses of Christ’s love. Anything that shows that we are not ashamed of our faith is a form of courageousness.
Saint Catherine of Siena has said that “If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire”. This quote can apply to living out our faith in a world that is constantly rejecting God. When we are authentically living for Christ–not just in the privacy of our hearts but in all areas of our lives–we have the ability to set a fire in every heart with whom we come in contact. We have the ability to be fully consumed with Christ’s love so that we can share this amazing love with others.