Privatization is a social position that is becoming more and more prevalent in our society today. It is the philosophy of being noncommittal or uninvolved in anything other than one’s own immediate interests or lifestyle.
One of the greatest impacts of privatization on the Church has been the prevailing attitude that “Whatever you believe, keep it to yourself.” The result is that “it guts the energy out of the Great Commission and efforts to share the Gospel,” which are, of course, the main tenets of the Church (Schmidt, J. David, Choosing to Live).
According to Robert N. Bellah, in Habits of the Heart, “The privatization of religion is going on at several different levels. Religious identity is now a matter of individual choice rather than family or community loyalty, but even beyond that, individual, make-it-your-own religion is one of the choices.” Statistics show that most Americans say they believe in God, but increasingly they practice religion by themselves, on their own.
The problem, of course, with taking a faith community out of the picture and placing the well-being of others on the back burner is that it, in effect, elevates the role of the individual over the role of God in Christ, who commanded us to “Go therefore and preach the Gospel” and who said “love one another as I have loved you” (Matthew 28:19; John 15:12).
Jesus himself did not live a secluded, private life, but lived his life in community with others and even loved those the world was quick to call unlovable. It was his calling from his Father to not hole himself up somewhere, but to reach out and take risks and be in worship and prayer and at dinner tables and wedding parties with people.
Christianity cannot take place in a vacuum. It cannot remain in private; it must become public.
As Jesus said in Scripture,
What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Matthew 10:27
In other words, don’t stay under your roof, but outside of it. Don’t keep faith to yourself, but spread it.
The idea of individual choice also reminds me of this quote from Jesus:
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. John 15:16
We are chosen by Christ and that compels us to be out and about, not afraid to share this gift of faith that we have been given by grace. In the end, he is the one in charge. not us.