Sunday, January 14, 2007

Christian Transparency

It is always interesting to see what brings visitors to one's blog. My post "I Saw a Lot of Naked Men..." sure gets a lot of hits (imagine that), but one post that garners a lot of attention is my post from August of 2005 on Transparency.

Here is the repost:

The Christian is to live a life that is transparent. This means that the Christian should live their life out in the open, hiding nothing. We should go about our work and play in plain view of anyone, and avoid every kind of evil.
I Thessalonians 4:11-12 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

I Thessalonians 2:4b "... we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts."

We are to live in the Light, and when we live transparent lives, all becomes seen in the Light. The definition of transparent is "easily seen through", "free from guile", "candid or open". God sees all that we do, everything. Character counts to a Christian because integrity and character is built by what we do "in the dark", when men can't see. If we are alway conscious of the fact that God is watching, and that we will one day give an account for all that we do. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight."(Romans 14:12, Hebrews 4:13)

This does not mean however, that we are not to have private moments at all. Of course a Christian has intimate details of life that are his/her own business, but those details are always to be within the confines of Biblical teachings, therefore approved by God. We need not point out the aspects of our life either, we should "make it our ambition to lead a quiet life...", because a life that is in the light will be seen naturally.

What it does mean is that we are to be ultimately accountable to God for our behaviors. Christians are instructed to "submit to one another", "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other" and "do not lie to each other". "We who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Because we, Christians, form one body, it is important that we are transparent with our lives, so that we can all "encourage one another and build each other up". If one of us is involved in sin, the entire body will be affected. One day our pastor gave a powerful visual of just this thing when he used this example: "Let's say I chose to sin and commit adultery"...then he asked his wife to stand up. After she stood, he had his children stand up. Then he had members of the leadership of the church stand, one by one. Then the friends of his family stood. Then the family of the people already standing were asked to stand. By the end of the illustration, the entire body of believers in that gathering place were standing.

Christians are to hold one another accountable. When we see a sister or brother falling into sin, we are to go to them and lovingly try to help them to see the error of their ways, and point them toward Christ who is the only One Who can fully restore them to the faith. If we say nothing, and we allow the sister/brother to stumble, unchallenged, we will be held accountable by God for that inaction. God gave us a voice to use!

Ephesians 4:25 "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body."

Christians who are leading transparent lives will invite intervention by another believer. By that I mean that the Christian who is transparent makes it obvious that they are sincerely trying to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. An observer would feel comfortable (maybe not the right word because the circumstance would be difficult, but they definately would not feel like "I'm not getting involved, it's none of my business") approaching the transparent Christian with words of caution or accountability.

Do not hide in the dark!

Ephesians 5:8-14 "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.

Be transparent! "...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Sue and Katie transparentI don't believe living transparently means telling every person you come in contact with about each and every aspect or detail of your life. To me it is just what I do...I go to work I work hard. I uphold a certain standard of behavior, the same as I do at home. Different aspects of my personality may be prominent at work, as opposed to home life, or socially, but the foundational character that I have is the same. I'm a honest person, so at work I am trusted, as I am at home. I had a mentor/counselor tell me once that she sees me as someone who is the same at work, home, and at church. That to me, is part of being transparent, because people will see me as the same person in all environments.

Am I always successful at being transparent? No...but it is what I strive to be. Having an accountability partner like Katie really helps in that department too. She is very quick to point out areas of my life that need to be exposed and dealt with. It's scary, but very necessary.

Transparency is necessary in the life of a God-fearing Christian. "If you walk in His light, the lost will see Him more."

Have you any additional thoughts to add on the topic of what it means to live a transparent life? Are there inevitable consequences for living your life out in the "open"? What about hiding how you live? Does anything good come from that? There are obvious challenges that come from living transparently.

People, including brothers and sisters in the faith, will form opinions about you based on what you share, it's inevitable. Will those opinions be accurate? And, will those opinions change how they deal with you?

Think about it, even if you aren't transparent, people still form opinions about you, and how accurate can that possibly be? They form those opinions on how little they know about you. I guess this is why we all wear our "stained glass masquerades" on Sunday. As Christians, we really need to learn to take those off, cast them aside, and love God and others whole heartedly!

I'm so thankful that God knows me, and chooses to love me. He is the One with Whom I can be transparent, and even when I try to hide, He sees all. (Psalm 139)
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

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