I’ve always valued my education, and I know a significant part of my identity and beliefs are shaped by my schooling. In fact, with each year that passes I am more grateful for the education I received. It was good quality, public education all the way from kindergarten through high school and into university. I was taught to explore and discover, question and analyse, express and dream.
But it was a very secular education.
Now I use the word ‘but’ not to suggest that anything secular is bad in and of itself. I’m still glad I didn’t go to a private Christian school, because I’m not sure I would have come to or appreciated Christ as much if I’d had Bible verses and morality spoon-fed to me growing up. I also think it’s useful to be able to understand an atheistic worldview (I maintain that secular society, by not preferencing any particular religion over another, actually assumes an atheistic worldview) – it gives me a point of reference for my own faith, and gives me the ability to see where the majority of people in society are coming from.
The thing is that in the last couple of years, and more so in the last few months, I have become increasingly aware that I have spent maybe half of my entire life censoring myself. As a general rule, I don’t talk about Jesus, or the Bible, or even God in conversations unless they are conversations specifically pertaining to Jesus, the Bible, God, church and so on. Despite the fact that they are at the heart of my identity and beliefs. Despite the fact that I was a missionary for two years. I have even been critical of too much ‘God bless you’-ing and ‘Christianese’ in general. My double standard is most apparent in cases where, for example, in relating to someone something good that has happened in my life, I will tell a Christian that “I was blessed” to have such and such a thing happen to me, but I will tell anyone else “I was very fortunate.” It’s not the same thing.
I have, effectively, been taught to self-censor. And I am having trouble uncensoring myself. Contemporary secular culture and its political correctness teach us freedom of speech with three exceptions: politics, race and religion. My personal experience is that politics actually isn’t really out of bounds, and many people (myself included) refuse to be PC about race and ethnicity. So the last frontier is religion.
Mark 8:38 says:
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.
I am angry at my education for teaching me to internalise my faith to the extent that I struggle to speak about it truthfully and effectively.
I am angry at myself for not allowing the Holy Spirit to express Himself fully through my speech.
I resolve to uncensor myself. Step by step. It may take a while, but this is important. I want to be obedient to and unashamed of my Lord and Saviour. I want my unbelieving friends to know me more fully and deeply as a person of faith. I want to be free to express who I am and what I think and believe, both in deed and in word.
Header image: Brian Wangenheim.