The news this week should provide a ready reminder that the truth of who we are and what we do won’t remain hidden forever. On the positive side, it was reported that a recently-deceased, Detroit-area business tycoon had been paying Rosa Parks’ rent for years so that she would have a safe place to live. On the negative side, it was alleged that one of the President’s advisors had inappropriate contact with a foreign government and then failed to tell the truth about it. Two secrets. Two revelations. Two different perceptions of the underlying character of the persons involved.
What of our “hidden truths”? In today’s readings from the Daily Office, the Apostle Paul tells his protege Timothy:
“The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.” (1 Timothy 5:24-25)
These sentiments, of course, echo many other passages that remind us of our ultimate accountability:
- “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Luke 12:3)
- “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit…I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:33-36)
- “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Are we frightened by the prospect of having our deepest secrets revealed? We probably should be. Hence the Bible’s repeated admonitions to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self”…to “walk in the light, as He is in the light”…and so on.
But at the same time, we are given the assurance that the One who knows us best – the One who is fully aware of every hidden thought and deed – is also the One who loves us most. “While we were sinners, Christ died for us,” the Bible says. And as a result, when we are “in Christ” – not even our deepest, darkest secrets can separate us from the love of God.
In a world that is as quick to point out faults and weaknesses as our world is, it can be a scary thing to live in the open. But may our families and churches become the kind of places in which “perfect love casts out fear.” And may we be so transformed by God’s Spirit and God’s Word that we can live with nothing to hide.