I was skimming through Thomas Long’s book Testimony this morning and was intrigued by the opening paragraphs. Long begins the book by asking how Christians ought to speak about their faith in public. (This is not a book about mission or evangelism per se. Rather, he is simply asking the question as to how we are to speak of our faith in God in a public setting.) I have not read this book. I am simply thinking about its opening chapter.
A shrewd New Yorker, a person of faith, once wryly noted, "At fashionable dinner parties in this town, you can talk about anything. You can talk about politics, you can talk about sex, you can talk about anything you want. But if you mention God more than once, you probably won’t be invited back."
This book is about an important but potentially uncomfortable topic: how ordinary Christians talk about God and faith when they are not in church. It is about how we put our faith into words when we are at places like dinner parties and neighborhood meetings, how we express our faith when we are talking to our families, with people at work, in social gatherings with our friends, and out in the community. Talking about God outside of church is a potentially uncomfortable topic because it places many Christians in a bind. On the one hand, we know that our faith touches everything about life. It affects our relationships, our politics, the way we spend our money and our time. How strange if our faith did not show up in our everyday talk. On the other hand, everybody knows that God and religion, like sex and money, are touchy matters, and speaking about faith in public always runs the risk of offense or even social rejection. Few people want to wear their religion on their sleeves — or their T shirts — and risk sounding like a "Jesus freak" or committing a social faux pas. As the New Yorker said, "If you mention God more than once, you probably won’t be invited back."
(Thomas G. Long, Testimony, pp. 3-4)
Have you done much thinking about this? Have you had similar concerns?