by Pastor Rob Bloss
We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God. – 2 Cor. 4:1 (MSG)
We sit around and share about how we don’t clean our house the way we should and are struggling to keep up with ‘homeschooling’ and virtual meetings. We chat about how we have been impatient with our spouse or dissatisfied with our jobs. Maybe we share that we spend too much time watching Netflix or fail at reading our Bibles on a regular basis.
We laugh and say, "it’s OK." We may share a few Bible verses and some helpful tips, but this is not real transparency. It’s a spiritual opaqueness that lets only a little light through. This is superficial at best and deceptive at worst. It can be deceptive because we are pretending to be open and honest when really, we are sharing what is easy while leaving out the very things we are supposed to lay before each other.
Real transparency between fellow sisters and brothers in Christ is much deeper and much more difficult than what we commonly practice. Transparency is difficult both for the teller and the hearer because we are uncovering our deepest desires and disobedience. James tell us in no uncertain terms that we are to confess our sins to each other (James 5:16). While being impatient or irritable is a part of it, that is only the tip of the iceberg. We need to go deeper. We need to dig down to the root of the problem.
In an age of division and distrust, where fractures over “facts” and opinions occur without the benefit of any honest, open conversations, our culture is crying out for honesty, humility, selflessness, and character.
People want to see the real you, with your weaknesses, mistakes, and vulnerabilities. You know that, because you’re watching the last fumes of the “top-down, buttoned-up, never let them see you sweat” leader vaporize into the stratosphere. But you’ve also seen the pendulum swing the other way. You don’t want to be the ‘oversharing’ transparent person on your Facebook newsfeed whose every emotion, relational struggle and moment of self-doubt is posted for the planet to gawk at.
To reap the benefits of transparency, we must tear away the mask of spiritual pretense. This takes wisdom, courage and a brutal honesty. But transparency comes with a caveat: Vulnerability with other sinful people may mean that trust will be broken, hurt will happen and forgiveness will need to be practiced. Being transparent is painful, embarrassing, humbling work, for the teller as well as for the hearer. But being transparent is also profitable, because through it we obey God, put sin to death, seek accountability and bear one another’s burdens. It’s profitable because it’s relatable and opens doors of opportunity to point people to Christ, to learn, grow and change.
I’ve experienced some painful failures at my own hand and at the hand of others. I’ve tried to be open about that. Early on, maybe too open and for the wrong reasons. I’ve needed to learn and apply some lessons. Two immediately come to mind:
Share what will help the listener, not me. I don’t want to be manipulative or to use those who are not part of the problem or solution in my own private healing journey.
Transparency is not about living in a glass house, allowing everyone to look in and see everything that goes on. Not everyone is wise or trustworthy.
People admire your strengths, but they identify with your weaknesses. I’m a more effective leader when I’m keeping it real.
As we launch a new ministry year, I’m praying that you find people to hang with that you don’t have to wear a mask with. Ok, you may have to wear a mask, but not the kind that covers up what’s going on in your life. I want Covenant to be a place – a safe place - where we don’t play games with one another, where we know that while we are deeply flawed, we are more deeply loved in Christ.