I was standing waiting in line for my coffee. I visit this particular coffee stop each week at the same time on the same day. It's so early that there is rarely anyone else there, but this one day there was someone else ahead of me. I see the same partial smile from the barista that tells me she's not into chit chat and is only smiling because she's supposed to. I can't help overhear her conversation with the lady in front of me. She obviously knows this lady by the conversation. That's when I was a bit surprised as the barista said something about working with the youth in her church and really enjoyed it and was excited about an upcoming youth outing. She is a follower of Jesus hiding in plain sight.
There are times when we need to camouflage our faith for a time. It may be to avoid persecution or in some places in the world prosecution. It may not be acceptable in some circles we travel, though we want to be a positive influence and hope that we can share the good news of Christ when opportunity presents itself. I believe that we get so used to hiding in plain sight that it starts to become second nature. We don't realize it, but we have effectively covered the lamp that burns in us and are hiding it from the world. Jesus addresses this in Luke 8:16. We have a lamp burning in us, or a light shining from us. That light is part of our witness to the nations and shouldn't be hidden. If you are a follower of Jesus of Christ, you have received the best gift anyone can receive and we need to share that gift.
How do we stop hiding in plain sight? That's a great question and there are many answers depending on how you have been blending in. The first thing to do is determine what got you started hiding in plain sight in the first place. Was it necessary to avoid some legal persecution? Was it fear of ridicule? Would it jeopardize relationships that you have with people? These are all reasons and there are more. Some are more valid than others.
Avoiding legal persecution and prosecution is a very real necessity in many parts of the world. God has not called all of us to follow the Apostle Paul into incarceration for our faith. He has called some, and especially gifted and equipped them for that ministry. There are pastors currently sitting in jail in western countries for teaching and preaching out of the Bible. If you are in a place where you can not openly share your faith, and doing so would put you in harms way, you should stay open to the Holy Spirit. Listen to the voice of God. If He tells you to uncover your lamp, you should. Until that time you need to figure out how to identify yourself and other Christians so you can keep fellowship and support one another.
Illegal persecution is a completely different situation. You need to know the rights you have as a citizen of your nation. In America you have the right to freely exercise your freedom of religion and speech. Workplaces often try to hamper this right. The fact of the matter is if sharing your faith is not effecting your job or anyone else's, you can't be disciplined. Remember, though, your freedom of speech does not imply everyone else has to listen to you. If you are disrupting the workplace, that can be held against you. The same holds true in our public schools. It is true the school cannot sponsor prayer or bible studies, or the like. However, that does not mean students cannot share their faith, pray, or read their bibles in school. If you are in America and want to know more about your legal rights as a Christian visit the Liberty Counsel web site.
Fear of ridicule is a very real thing. None of us enjoys being teased or mocked, especially for something as dear as our faith. Sometimes it is just easier to hide and be quiet than stand up and give a mocker a clear target. Paul addresses this in a couple of passages of scripture. In Romans 1:16 he tells us he is not ashamed of the gospel. In 2 Timothy 1:8 he encourages Timothy not to be ashamed of his testimony. We read so many times in both the Old testament and New Testament to fear not. God is always encouraging us to not live in fear, but in victory. It is not fun being mocked or insulted for anything, especially our faith, but all it takes is remembering what Jesus endured in his final hours silently. It becomes much easier to endure our tormentors when we compare our situation to that.
Hiding in plain sight to avoid the destruction of relationships can be a valid reason, for a time. The emphasis needs to be on for a time. We all influence those around us. Those around us are also influencing us. We need to make sure we have like minded believers in our lives who we can spend time with, pray with and study with so we can stay balanced. We need to be sure we are positively influencing those around us without falling into the traps that the devil will undoubtedly set for us. We also need to make sure we are not setting ourselves up to compromise our beliefs or for failure. There are no hard and fast or black and white rules about this. You have to use the guidance of the Holy Spirit in each and every case and trust God to show you through. What is important to remember is we have received power to be witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. That power is to be witnesses in and to this world. Don't let the world corrupt you. Always be watchful for opportunities to open up about your faith in this circle of people. You may be the key to introducing them Jesus. Pray for those opportunities and that you'll be ready and willing.
Don't let hiding in plain sight become second nature. Hide for a time if you must for valid reasons and with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but be ready to share at a moments notice. You never know when God is going to put in the game.