But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:13)
People are becoming more and more invisible. Advances in the access and use of the Internet are most likely responsible for this. More and more we are communicating with friends and strangers from a vantage point of invisibility. We send emails and texts from a safe distance where no one can see us. This can be both good and bad. Bad, because we can fool people more easily if they can’t see us, but good, because the anonymity gives us a certain protection with which we can divulge what we might not tell even our closest friend. In other words, in what sounds like a contradiction in terms, invisibility can make you more visible.
This is most certainly what we have seen with the Catch. People can tell us their darkest secrets because they can’t see us and we can’t see them. We are outside the loop of their fellowship or social network of friends. For instance, we have counseled a number of pastors who don’t have places where they can reveal their weaknesses, struggles and fears. They have an image to maintain in the congregation. Ideally it shouldn’t be this way, but we understand why it is, and why we can offer a valuable service. We noticed this as soon as we started accepting prayer requests. People could ask us to pray for things in their lives they wouldn’t be free to share with their peers or friends. Same-sex attraction, former abortions, lust issues, pornography — these are some of the types of things that come out into the open.
As long as we make it a goal for more transparency with everyone, then this kind of openness is good. Ultimately we want to be open and honest people. This is what God wants for us, and what it means to walk in the light. It means to walk where the light of Christ shows us to be who we really are. Yes, the light of Christ reveals, and that’s the vulnerable — sometimes painful — part, but it also loves, forgives, cleanses, warms and comforts us. All of this is what happens when you become visible in the body of Christ.
So it’s a contradiction in terms, but it’s true, that the invisible nature of the Internet is something that can actually help people become more visible. To see each other as we really are is to walk in the light.
In the verse above, Paul goes as far as to say, “Everything that becomes visible is light.” That means that light doesn’t just show us what’s there; it is what’s there. So walking in the light is to walk in the truth about each other. And that’s liberating.
Interesting perspective. I think we agree the desired action is for people to be transparent with everyone, including those who we fear may take advantage of such honesty. I understand both sides. Yet, fearing a lack of acceptance isn’t sufficient justification for our failure to be open and honest.
There may be unfortunate consequences for our transparency, but I’ve personally found it helps others to become bold when they see my honesty and my willingness to deal with my shortcomings and the consequences that result from those who prefer to judge and condemn rather than accept and encourage.
Of course, it’s also appropriate to emphasize we need to offer less condemnation and more encouragement to those souls brave enough to show themselves sans-a-mask. I think we all need to work on both sides of the issue, and remember satan is the accuser (it’s not our job), and God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation is our “defense” when we are condemned by others for revealing our inner imperfections.
The Word of God can instruct, condemn, and forgive… and THAT is the authority we need to recognize and reconcile ourselves with its truth. Keeping one’s focus on our Creator and Savior rather than allowing ourselves to be shaped by the opinions and judgments of others isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it is the best road to spiritual health and growth. Trust in our Lord despite the darkness and difficulties (from the defeated prince of darkness) that sometimes tries to envelope us. Keep trusting, remain faithful, press on!
Thanks for listening/reading. May God bless all the imperfect believers who trust and continue to seek His will for our souls.
What a shame that pastors feel they need to “maintain an image” for their churches! I’m so grateful our pastor shares his struggles with us and allows us to pray for him and love on him. He is currently going through severe anxiety struggles – to the point that he has started preaching sitting down in case of a panic attack. He shares his mistakes, a past addiction – pretty much everything. This has greatly helped our church to all be more open with each other and each small group truly supportive and loving. Jesus was the only perfect one. If any of us were perfect – even pastors – we wouldn’t need Jesus.