I must confess last year I didn’t know the organization WikiLeaks existed. However, with the various things it has released this year how could someone not know about it. Most recently WikiLeaks released U.S. State department diplomatic cables. Whether right or wrong all these releases show that secrets eventually, whether you want them to or not, will see the light of day.
And so the whole WikiLeaks ordeal has got me thinking about believers and the secrets we keep. Everyone has some skeleton in their closet and none of us want them freed; especially if you’re a leader in the church.
Not everything done in secret is bad though. Jesus tells us to give secretly to those in need (Matthew 6:3-4). He tells us to pray (Matthew 6:6) and fast (Matthew 6:18) in secret. We’re told not to proclaim it to those around us. Those types of secrets are acceptable and encouraged because no harm comes from them. After all, the Master says the Father will reward us for secretly communing with him.
However, there are things which believers are to abstain from; specifically what the apostle Paul called the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21). Such sins when engaged in by believers are always hidden away to be kept secret. We find in the Torah specifically in Numbers 32:23 the LORD has Moses tell Israel at the end of the verse that their sin will find them out. As a child of God you cannot willfully act in disobedience to the Father and just continue on as normal.
In recent years more and more cases of inappropriate sexual behavior involving pastors and priests have seen the light of day. Why? Because your sin will find you out. Yet, strangely enough though in the church we have a tendency to elevate our spiritual leader to a place that causes our world to rock when he or she slips up and falls into sin. I find it strange because they are no different than anyone else. As a minister I struggle with the same issues as every other believer. I see the same television commercials, the same billboards and the same inappropriate ads on the various social media sites; I see the same things as you and have to overcome them the same way as you.
As honorable and well-intentioned as it may be, the elevation of our leaders is unhealthy just as the elevation of a government is unhealthy. Everyone and everything has secrets; it’s just a matter of time before they see the light of day.
As believers we must strive to live holy and set apart lives. If we see our neighbor slip up we should be there to help them, not publically out them. There is a time and a place for a public declaration but that should always be a last resort. To shame someone or something in public lacks compassion for those connected with the incident and only excusable when said parties refuse to do the right thing.
Whether you agree with WikiLeaks and their practices isn’t the point of this post. The point is that we as believers need to guard our hearts so that we don’t slip and put ourselves and our loved ones in a place of shame or embarrassment. Additionally we have to have the boldness to confront those in our lives that are treading on thin ice as well as the willingness to make an attempt to save those who have fallen through.
Unlike the governments of this world Christians serve alongside one another in a kingdom not of this world; a kingdom built on love, on compassion. The kingdom of God isn’t about airing everyone’s dirty laundry. It is about reconciliation and restoration.
So determine in your heart, if the need arises, to personally confront your neighbor in an attempt to bring them to restoration; shame is never the answer.
Restoration creates a friend, shame forges an enemy.