This morning I am meditating on transparency and I remembered that time when I was asked to share my testimony at a ladies meeting…but only after the pastor’s wife reviewed and edited my story. I remember her words vividly. “Nicky, people don’t need to know everything about you. Just tell them what Jesus has done” she said. I remember a friend telling me that I was intimidating because I was so transparent about my own brokenness. She felt convicted about the dark things she was hiding, I suppose.
It is such a natural, human response, isn’t it. We want to present our best possible self to the world, while we work hard to cover the hurting, broken mess we really are. Even now, when someone considers sharing a snippet of their lives, the question whether it’s safe to do so is the first one they ask themselves. Yet, if we consider the example of Jesus, a very different picture emerges. For the sake of our freedom and deliverance from death, He allowed Himself to become a public spectacle. His (literal) nakedness, His humiliation, His pain and despair…nothing was hidden from the eyes of the onlookers. Not only that, but it was captured on the pages of a book that is still the best selling manuscript of all times. Everyone knew, everyone saw and we still do. How is that for being utterly transparent and stripped naked?
So I am thinking about this transparency business and I realise it’s a dangerous thing, an unsafe and potentially painful thing, but what happens when we are brave enough to let them see? I believe the fear of man breaks off us when we realise the Lord has gone before us and He is the only one capable of making a righteous judgment about us. Not only that, He is the One that fights for us, vindicates us and also the one that heals us from the wounds inflicted by those souls who don’t get it yet. There is a price to pay for living transparently. There’s always the potential to be wounded, to be gossiped about, but does that not say more about the person engaging in that behaviour than it does about us? If we follow Jesus’ example, isn’t there a reward for us also, like we are the reward for His suffering? Jesus didn’t flinch because His mission was unsafe…why should we consider our safety when eternity is at stake?
If we continue to hide ourselves, for fear of being judged, gossiped about, hurt and wounded…how will they know?
How will the hurting, broken, desperate people who exist beside us know that we know? How will the desperate, suicidal teenager know that we know? That some of us have been there, that we felt rejected, unloved, unwanted and abandoned by those who were suppose to love and care for us?
How will they know that we know the shame and pain you feel when you walk out of an abortion clinic, your womb empty but your load twice as heavy? That the guilt keeps you up at night, the sight of other babies, alive and well stir up emotions you cannot even express in words?
How will they know that some of us know the depth of pain and despair when a wife finds out her husband has been addicted to pornography for longer than she’s known him…that he has been paying for prostitutes, having one night stands, a mistress on the side…
How will they know we know fear, anxiety, despair and hopelessness when we hear that death sentence spoken over us by the doctor we looked to for healing, when we get that phone call we never want to get, when the police car pulls into our driveway in the middle of the night, when the best laid plans turns to custard? How will they know we know what it’s like to lose a job, a house, a friendship, a loved one? How will they know we know betrayal, shame, grief and suffering…just as well as they do?
How will they know we are so familiar with the depth of shame, guilt, condemnation and revulsion that husband feels when he breaks the silent promise to himself that he will never do it again, whether it’s feeding that addiction, beating his wife or child, losing money gambling and then he does? How will they know we know about fear, about innocently suffering at the hands of another, that we know the fallout of every depravity they face and we don’t live squeaky clean, perfect lives? How will they know if we don’t tell them?
More importantly, how will they know that in the midst of our pain, our despair, our brokenness, our shame and guilt, our filth and our mess, a Saviour appears every time when we call to Him. How will they know about our loving Father, who runs to us in the midst of all of this, a Father who scoops us up and cradles us in His arms and kisses the pain away?
How will they know about the blood of the Lamb that washes our stains away, that covers our sin and shame and heals our every disease? How will they know that we know a God who is attracted to us because of our pain, our shame, our humiliation, our filth and our depravity? How will they even know they need Him, when they still believe their efforts to medicate their pain away with their addictions, their denial, their desperate search for meaning and joy will pay off in the end? When they are still convinced that one day that perfect partner, that perfect cocktail, that perfect pill, that perfect job, that perfect car, that perfect lotto ticket or that perfect cosmetic surgeon will appear? How will they know we tried all that and it didn’t work? How will they know if we don’t tell them?
I’m calling to the brave, the delivered, the healed, the unconditionally loved, the ones who know Him as Healer, Saviour, Deliverer, Redeemer, Teacher, Friend…I’m calling on you to tell them, because they don’t know and the enemy wants to keep them ignorant, falling over themselves in darkness and despair. We know and so should they.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne.
Hebrews 12:2 NLT