When asked about their religious beliefs, more and more folks these days might say: “Well, it’s a deeply personal and private matter.” Who would doubt that one’s religious beliefs are personal. For good or bad they personally affect us. But along with that word “personal” comes the word “private.”
Imagine talking that way in regard to other subjects. Your friend asks: “Hey, what do you think about all that government surveillance stuff?” You say: “Well, I can’t talk about it. It’s a deeply personal and private matter.”
Or your sister asks: “What’s your opinion about Justin Bieber’s driving?” And you say: “That’s too personal and private to discuss.”
Face it. There are all kinds of things we have strong opinions about. And generally, we are not afraid to talk about things that matter to us. An avid hunter in these parts will spend an hour describing every blade of grass in the woods where he shot that buck. A movie buff will spend more time telling you about the latest flick than it would take to just watch the movie.
Talking about things that interest us or matter deeply to us is as natural and unavoidable as water being wet, fire being hot, and grass being green.
Precisely because we take some things personally, we talk about them all the more. Nothing private about it!
You would think it might be this way for us as children of God when it comes to the truths of our Christian faith. There is a phrase in our Lutheran Confessions, The Book of Concord, which is repeated over and over. Introducing various articles of faith, the phrase says: “We believe, teach and confess…” In similar fashion, our brief statement of basic Bible doctrines entitled This We Believe ends each chapter with the words: “This is what Scripture teaches…this we believe, teach and confess.”
We all know what it means to “confess” our sins. It means we acknowledge them, admit them. The word in the New Testament for “confess” literally means “to say the same thing,” in short, to agree with something. When we confess our sins, we are saying the same thing God says about us.
This morning we “confess” our faith according to the words of the Apostles’ Creed. In other words, we “say the same thing.” We express our agreement with what the Bible teaches about God, and we express our agreement with each other in these teachings, especially confessing what Christ has done to redeem us.
The first and automatic fruit of real faith is to confess Christ, to admit our allegiance to Him and proclaim our agreement with Him. When the dying thief on the cross next to Jesus confessed his sin and was brought to faith, what was the first thing he did – really the only thing he could do? He confessed Christ to the other thief, rebuking him for his unbelief and trying to lead him to repentance.
Not always in a single, heroic pool of blood, but quite often in a thousand self-draining sacrifices, we show our colors, side with our Savior and with those who teach His word purely, take a stand, draw that line in the sand, and confess with brand new courage and joy what our Friend once did for us when He stretched out His arms on a cross to confess His love for us.