Feb 6, 2019

The Sin of Anonymity

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. 
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
                                                                                    ~Matthew 5:11-16

Quarterback great, Peyton Manning, once said, “I would rather be in the arena to be excited or be disappointed than not have a chance at all.” I agree. I’m a terrible fan and struggle watching sports without living vicariously through the men in the arena. Our last entry asked, “At you a man in the arena or fan in the arena?” which question naturally leads to a second, “Is being a fan wrong?
        Is it a sin to be an anonymous spectator in my church? Is it wrong to follow Jesus yet being anonymous to those who carry His name and those who need to? Bear with me as I unpack one of the great lies believed by many who claim to follow Jesus.
       There is, however, a legitimate tension that must be dealt with before we go any further. Does the Bible teach that humility is synonymous with anonymity? The word secret is mentioned 24 times in the New Testament, six of those are in Matthew 6:2-12 and 16-18, where Jesus warns against boasting in three specific areas: 1) giving to the poor, 2) prayer and 3) fasting. Those who boast publicly about these specific areas, Jesus cautions, will receive their reward—praise from men—in full.
         Our solution is found one chapter earlier (Matthew 5:10-16) where on three distinct occasions Jesus emphatically encourages His followers to, 1) speak publicly about their faith even to persecution (10-12), 2) influence their world because of the presence of Christ in their lives (13-14), and 3) shine like light in a dark place (14-16).
         What’s the verdict? When it comes to our giving, prayer, and fasting life we would be humble and secretive. But in matters of our faith, we should boldly serve, shout, and sacrifice in Jesus’ name. In other words, men should be on display in whatever arena God directs, with a goal of putting God on display.
         Purposeful anonymity in the context of faith in Jesus and manhood is false teaching, antagonistic to Jesus’ life, and a sin. The Sin of Anonymity is not a sin if you’ve been ignorant. But, now you know and must choose your way. More often, however, it is a choice and a sin of omission on the darkest of levels, ignoring the heart of Jesus for people and God’s plan for your best version.
         What do you choose today? Will you remain anonymous in the bleachers of Witness Stadium (Hebrews 12:1)? Or, will you get up, walk down the aisle, and get in the game? Being a man or a fan in the arena is your choice.