Have you ever struggled to follow Christ close to home?
Your hometown knows your story, has seen your mistakes, pushes your buttons and lets you get away with things you wouldn't do in other places.
How do you share the gospel with a brother you've beaten up? How do you talk about biblical wisdom with someone who has changed your diapers? How do you talk about responsibility with a child you've let down?
We are all tempted to withhold the distinctly Christian parts of our lives.
But this temptation hurts us and hurts the people who know us best.
When we hold back, we twist our understanding of the gospel of Jesus.
The gospel tells us that living a godly life is beyond our ability. We haven't always lived in a way that pleased God. That's why we need a savior! And the gospel tells us that, in Christ, God accepts us even though we don't live perfectly. God accepts us (as Paul argues in Romans 6) because we are united to Christ.
When we hold back, we also create pockets of life where we are prone to temptation.
Think of it this way ... imagine a friend whose husband consistently took his wedding ring off before he went to the office. Sure, he can put the ring back on when he returns to his car at the end of the day, but still ...
Now, the ring is just an image. Who cares if he wears a ring or not? But the idea, that a man could pocket his commitment to his wife while at work without consequence and temptation, just doesn't sound wise. Does it?
When we hold back, we also miss opportunities to bless our hometown.
Our families, neighbors, co-workers ... they need us to push back against our temptation to hold back. That distinctly Christian part of our lives has been planted in us (in part) as a prophetic witness to those closest to us.
Whether they know Jesus or not ... but especially if they know Jesus ... the people closest to us see something of Jesus in us. More clearly, they see something of the gospel of Jesus in us. If Jesus could love someone like us, if Jesus could transform us the way he's transforming us ...
A prophet may not be honored in his hometown, but we're not looking for honor, right?
Where are you tempted to hold back?