Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Churchy transparency vs. authentic transparency...

Week 16:

I Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

What is hidden will be revealed.  God will shed light on all things…the good and the bad.  I hear from time to time about transparency among believers.  In Church, there are times where a transparent life is mentioned.  My experience around this has been varied.  In the right context, transparency has been a grace-filled, freeing experience.  However, in most church contexts, it has been “Churchy” and shallow. 

What I am talking about here is not necessarily confession linked to sin…although it applies to that as well.  In fact, confessing sin can really be easier than becoming transparent and opening my heart.  You see, I know just the right amount of sin to confess to get the pat on the back and the golden ticket of forgiveness.  I can use “Church” language, appeal to the sins of similar nature others have committed, and feel a sense of accomplishment.  But to bear my heart’s longings…that is just not safe. 

For me, to admit I am disappointed in God’s decision or timing creates discomfort in others.  So does admitting I am angry, revealing my pain in a loss, admitting a blind spot exists, etc.  Many do not want to hear that I was disappointed and wondered where God was when my Grandparents died while still relatively young; or that my parents divorced; or that I felt like an outcast in Junior High and that the feeling comes up occasionally when I am among peers today.  So, I have learned like so many others to use the “Church” language, pray harder, learn more scripture, do more workshops and seminars, and play “Church” well. 

You see, what I put in the dark is not always sin.  I will push down things like sadness, fear, anger, discomfort and cover them with “Churchy” talk.  But they never really disappear and usually they re-appear in the form of some sort of sin in the future.  God wants all of that in the light.  “He will bring to the light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.”  This transparency can be painful in the beginning, but a whole lot less so than what pain comes out of the darkness.

I think of it this way.  When painting a house, I must first remove any of the peeling paint.  If I try to paint over the peeling paint, then the new paint will not last very long.  Similarly, if I use “Churchy” talk to cover over my heart’s issues, it is a temporary fix.  So, I must remove the old paint.  Now, I could shortcut the process by just brushing off the loose flakes.  This is like confessing sin in such a way to gain sympathy but not really having the contrite heart.  No, I must scrape and sand the surface in order to prepare it for new paint.  Scraping and sanding is messy.  Part of the wood is lost in the process.  Some paint is hard to remove and takes some digging.  Being transparent is messy and painful coming out.  However, the new paint of grace is so much smoother and lasts so much longer when I expose the wood of my heart. 

This is a risky process for me.  I will be judged by others who do not understand this authentic transparency.  There may be consequences for opening up.  I lose my excuses for failures.  I could lose some of my drive that made me who I am today.  However, what I lose is nothing compared to what I gain in God’s grace and knowing that nothing is hidden.  It really takes a lot of time and wasted energy to push things into the darkness.  God will reveal it eventually, why shouldn’t I help Him by opening up now?


1.      What repetitive sin do you hide?
2.      What uncomfortable things, not necessarily sinful things do you hide?
3.      Why do you suppose that this transparency is not practiced in most Churches?
4.      What wound do you need God’s grace to flood?
5.      Notice this week what you hide and repress.  Ask God to help you to bring that into the light. 
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