Personal But Not Private

The removal of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and ongoing activities of Wikileaks is a reminder of how important privacy is in our digital age. Large-scale data breaches make headlines almost daily, and there is a growing public concern about the harvesting of personal data by large technology companies. It seems to be increasingly difficult to protect the elements of your life which have an online presence. Our bank accounts, tax records, family photos and correspondence appear to be an open book to anyone with online access and mischief.

Personal But Not Private

The institutions we depend upon to safeguard us are playing catch up all the time. It is not easy to legislate and enforce standards of conduct in a world which has no cyber borders. Social media has made attempts at self regulation with privacy settings, which seem to work for the majority of rule keeping casual users.

This got me thinking about what is important in our lives and what privacy settings we have in relation to the Gospel. In various dictionaries there is a fine distinction between "confidential", "private" and "personal". When we come to the Gospel it is pretty clear. The relationship I have with the Lord Jesus is personal. It was established the day I trusted him and received him as my Saviour.  That was the day that I was saved and radically changed for this world and eternity. It was, and will remain, deeply personal. 

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)

The privacy settings of my life are indelibly marked "personal" in relation to the Gospel. However, that is different from "private". The Gospel came to me because people shared it with others. Geographically and historically, the spread of the Gospel has always been a story of sharing, preaching, witnessing and evangelising. If everyone kept it to themselves no one would hear.

The privacy setting for the Gospel in my life should therefore be "Personal and Public". There are aspects of our lives which we may prefer to be private and not for public consumption, but the Gospel is not one of them.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)