Recently much has been made of Facebook’s massive information leak because of a personality quiz that many utilized on Facebook. This information leak led to some 87 million people, mostly those of us here in America, having our personal information shared with an outside company based in Europe called Cambridge Analytica. It’s spawned a whole new round of discussions about privacy settings and the information we put out on the internet.
People’s choices about privacy settings, what they’re willing to share or not share on the internet vary widely. We probably all have a friend who uses a pseudonym or only a portion on their name on social media while others are open books with everything being shared with the entire world from what breakfast cereal you’re eating to where you’re vacationing. I’m not really here to debate or make a case for how you share or don’t share personal information on social media. I see the pros and cons of both sides. What I do want us to think about is, we all have privacy settings….not just on social media. Each one of us makes choices every single day about what our daily privacy settings will be. The decision you make about who you talk to, how much you share with them, where you go, whether to put clothes on before putting your trash cans out by the street etc. Everyone really appreciates your decision to put clothes on before going outside!
Obviously there are some things that it’s important we keep in private….our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives is not one of them. On Facebook I can choose to share with Public (Everyone in the world), Friends, Certain Friends, or Only Me. While I wish some people would raise their privacy settings on political views, medical issues or other things I just don’t need to know….we’d be wise to lower our privacy settings on how we share our faith and represent Christ in our lives.
There are multiple places in the Bible where it speaks to our privacy settings as it relates to our faith in Christ….one of the illustrations used multiple times in scripture if that of light. In Matthew 5:14-16 it says:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The illustration by itself speaks to how little privacy we should have when it comes to our faith in Christ. Light exposes things, shows things clearly and illuminates things for what they are. There is no privacy in the light. Here’s some things we need to think through as we think about our life privacy settings as it relates to being the light:
- Light invades darkness: Go into a dark room, turn on the lights….light goes everywhere that it’s not blocked within that room. As we go into our neighborhoods, workplaces, our children’s activities, restaurants…..even other countries….our light needs to invade. How does light know where it can’t go? It hits a barrier and then is bounced or reflected off. We see it as a shadow in areas where light isn’t able to directly penetrate. Everywhere we go….and I mean everywhere, our light is to be public….no privacy. We invade the world with the light of the gospel until it comes up against a barrier where it cannot penetrate.
- Light is not meant to be hidden: In that passage above, a lamp is not hidden under a basket, it’s not kept private. Our faith in Christ is not to be confined to the church building or our homes. The concept of our faith being private doesn’t reflect the nature of light. When we’re picking our privacy settings as regards to the light of Christ….it’s not just for me, it’s not just for my select Christian friends or church family, it’s for the public. Boldly show the light to all. Light does no good when it’s kept private….when we keep others in the darkness.
- Light draws attention to the source: Some of us don’t like to draw attention to ourselves, hence why we live private lives. Ultimately as the light Christ, when we choose to put our light on display for all the world to see…it draws attention to the source. At the end of verse 16 it talks about how it brings glory to God. You boldly show the light of Christ to the world because God deserves attention, not because you deserve it. When we hide the light, it’s hard to determine the source of the light. No one is confused by where our source of daylight comes from. The Sun is the obvious source. In the same way, the light that shines through us makes it obvious that God is the source. Don’t keep it private, that just makes it difficult for others to see the source.
Each day we make a choice about what level of privacy we will live our life with. Some days we avoid people, avoid interaction, avoid being uncomfortable, avoid meeting new people…..we choose to keep our privacy settings high…very high. We hide the light deep within our homes and churches. If in a short time a company can leak our personal information for 87 million people all because of a personality test…what would happen if Christians lowered their life privacy settings and let the whole public see the light of Christ? While it might be wise to keep your information private on social media, let’s keep our faith very public for all to see!