I love baking, so I also contributed to the table by baking my infamous 'Melktert'. 'Melktert' is a South-African version of a custard pie, if you have never had one: you should.
As I placed down my masterpiece between the competition I realised I forgot to write a label for it. I quickly scribbled the name of the dessert on a blank page I tore from a note book I found in my handbag and then I saw that it had a Bible verse at the bottom of the page; which was to be expected since it was a church notebook I took the page from!
I quickly tore the message away and continued to my morning meeting, but halfway down the stairs I stopped in my tracks. I couldn't walk away from what I did. Something was holding me back: my conscience. I was betraying God's name by hiding the light that He has given me to shine upon others in His name.
As guilt rushed over me I realised I had to re-write the label on a page from the book and this time I must leave the message on it â you never know when someone may need it. So I did - and there it stood: my 'melktert', proudly armed with a bible verse. I wonder if the verse had anything to do with the fact that we needed a second container for our gold coin donations...
I experienced another trying situation not so long ago where I was in the company of non-believers. I was the only Christian in the group and it was well known amongst them. Still they felt no shame in mocking Christianity and judging Christians for their 'stupidity'.
I decided not to engage in the conversation and I excused myself to make coffee, which didn't really take me out of the conversation because everyone was sitting in at the dining table and the kitchen is part of the open plan design.
So, to my astonishment one of the guests kept on looking my way while degrading Christianity as if they wanted my approval. They wanted a reaction: I must agree because they would hate to think that I am so stupid as to believe in such a fairy tale. Well, I didn't say anything. I made my coffee, chose a seat opposite the dining table and pretended to be part of the conversation. I felt embarrassed, excluded and judged.
I wonder if you would say that this was a betrayal or just me surviving in modern society? As a Christian I always try and live in such a way that others can tell I am Christian without having to push my beliefs on them. I feel that if it is so easy to put people off Christianity when one is overly enthusiastic. Maybe I am a coward, maybe I am just scared of being excluded from people's lives.
Don't get me wrong, I don't hide the fact that I am Christian. I always try and remind people around me that I am by wearing a cross or by admitting that I went to church on Sunday when I am asked what I did over the weekend. It is just in some really confrontational situations, ones that I don't see worth making a fuss about, that I cower away from. I am sure that many Christians have encountered this in today's society where everyone is free to believe what they like and do as they please, but it doesn't make me feel any better about my short-comings.
Do not pass judgement on each other
After paging through my Bible for some encouraging news so that I don't feel like such a worm, I found a few scriptures in Matthew that put things in perspective for me. The first was about judging and being judged: "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matthew 7 verses 1-2) One should not judge. No one is in the position to judge except God.
So it is only His judgement that matters and it is only His judgement we should mind. The judgement we receive from other people because of who we are does not matter, it is so trivial, so small: it is nothing. Only God decides our fate and it is His judgement we should fear.
So from now on I am not going to hide when I am mocked for believing in God. I bow my head in shame for thinking that their mockery is worth paying attention to. God is all that matters and for those who know this He will award greatly.
Carry the light He has given you
The second scripture was about how we should not be ashamed of who we are and who we are serving because He is proud of us and He has given us a special task: to carry His 'light' - to spread His word and touch others with His love. Now we can't do that if we keep hiding our beliefs, because it may offend non-believers.
We have a right to believe and if I want to put down a note with a Bible message on it at work, I should feel comfortable and proud to do so."You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5 verses 14-16)"
I have had some trying experiences lately but they made me stronger. Through them I learned that I should be proud to be God's daughter. He loves me and Has given me a light to bear to the world. I should focus on keeping my light visible and bright at all times, not just when other Christians are around.
It doesn't matter what other people think. God is mightier than men and I shall be rewarded for my bravery when I stand before Him in heaven one day.
Leanne van Rensburg was born in 1988 and grew up on a farm in a small town in South-Africa. After school she chose a career in science and obtained degrees in biotechnology and microbiology. She moved to Australia in 2012 and is currently working as an oncology technician in Sydney. Family, friends, horses, photography and travelling are a few things that add value to her everyday life. She is a adventurous person that loves taking risks and trying new things. Writing comments for Christian Today is one of her latest undertakings.
Leanne van Rensburg's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/leanne-van-rensburg.html