Bible Study Brief 5: Public and Private Christianity

These Bible Study Briefs are deliberately informal. They are structured so that they can be considered in a short twenty-minute session or become the basis for an hour-long discussion.

The studies are intended to provide you with accessible, usable, and brief Bible studies on topics that touch on the peculiar needs, problems, and dilemmas that confront Christians in the legal profession.

No formal leader is required. After reading the brief scriptural passage (perhaps with a couple of different translations available in the group to add nuances of meaning), use the questions as prods for discussion. Please add your own questions, because the concerns and interests of each study group are different.

Some discussion "Do's":

  1. Do resist the temptation to make Bible study a mere intellectual inquiry or to parade your finely tuned analytical skills.
  2. Do provoke each other into finding concrete ways to apply and incorporate scriptural insights into your lives.
  3. Do commit yourselves to encouraging each other to stick to these commitments through friendship and prayer.

We're grateful to the Christian Legal Society for sharing these Bible Study Briefs with us.


Jesus’ teachings appear to contain mixed signals about whether Christian discipleship and obedience are “public” or “private.” At least, it would seem that some Christians have drawn contrasting lessons from Jesus’ words. Consider the following two passages.


Read Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 and Luke 12:8-12

  1. A good lawyer’s exercise: Can the two cases be distinguished? Can the principles stated in each be harmonized? Is there a unifying principle between the two?
  2. Can you think of other Scriptural passages that increase of diminish the tension between these two passages? That supply a unifying principle?
  3. Various Christian viewpoints satirize each other for practicing “privatized, part-time, uncommitted Christianity” or “sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, sham religiosity.” Which extreme does your Christian life more closely resemble? Is it possible to be guilty of both charges at once? Challenge each other; repeat the questions as applied to your law student fellowship.
  4. How, concretely, can Christians pray without “privatizing” and preach without being pompous? If you can, list practical objectives and steps for putting your answers into practice. (Then, let it be more than a list.)

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