In fact, I stumble in ways that leave me open to public shaming and embarrassment, things that could come back to bite me. I won't go into details, because the details aren't relevant here. But I've foolishly opened myself, even in recent times, to exposure. I wrote a post about misuse of the word "hypocrite" not that long ago, and even if the word is often misapplied by "the world," I've certainly given the world potential fuel to misapply it to me. I behave in ways that are unchristian, and sometimes when I behave in these ways I don't even show any sign that I'm remorseful or that I have any conscience in the matter. By all accounts, it might seem like I'm a "traitor" from either point of view, whether from the view of faith or the view of the "anything goes" culture. Two-faced. Duplicitous. To be honest, I'll admit one thing where I am a genuine hypocrite: I find it scary and off-putting when others behave that way, and yet I do it myself and don't think I am scary. It's very humbling for me even to admit that, because I am often as guilty as any Pharisee of thinking that "I'm more honorable than those sinners." I'm not. Not by a long shot.
|What will I do if they find out I'm human?!|
Anyway, the point is that there exists in this world, for all I know, the means to "expose" my sins, and to show everyone that not only are my failures still very much ongoing, but also that when I'm in "sin mode" I am a very different person than the person I want to be, the person that I would be proud to be. I am no better than anyone, and I say that from the heart. The reality of "me" is not always pretty or responsible. I can be as stubborn or shameless as any other sinner in the whole world. The only difference at all is that, by God's Grace, I am ultimately willing to admit that my sins are sins, but even then "in the moment" I sometimes put that reality on the back burner and won't mention it if it would be an "inconvenience" to the wrong deeds I'm pursuing.
God knows my sins. And unfortunately, so does the devil. And that snake would love nothing more than to use them against me, to intimidate me from doing anything good that might put my reputation on the line. The devil is more shameless than any human sinner could ever be: He is not above using cheap blackmail, and ever since I reached puberty he has used it against me. Now, perhaps, he has more to work with than before, since as a family man it's even more "embarrassing" that I have the struggles I do.
Here's an example: In very recent times I've even second-guessed whether or not I should continue promoting this blog, or ever consider attaching my real identity to it. The fear is that if this blog, by some miracle, should ever really "take off" well enough to make a difference in people's lives, then it will also tick off all the wrong people. Digging could be done to discredit me, and if someone dug deeply enough, I in my foolishness have left enough of a trail that their work could pay off.
"Give it up," the devil whispers, "If you'll stay out of my way, I'll stay out of yours. Just live a quiet life, keep your religion and your values to yourself, and there will be no reason for anyone to ever make your fears come true."
|I offa you a deal out of the kindness of my heart.|
If you refuse my generosity, I can't be held responsible
for what happens. I'm just sayin'.
But I don't intend to do that. By the power of Christ Who strengthens me, even my writing this post is a defiance of the threat. I may not be giving details, but I'm admitting here that you shouldn't be surprised by the types of failures I've known and continue to know. The devil wants me to be afraid that you might find out I do some really rotten things even as I write and speak about healing and faith, so I'm beating him to the punch and confessing it here.
I think that's why the scriptures say "confess your faults to one another." I don't think that's only about confessing to a priest--there are other scriptures suited for that case--I think it's because being open about our imperfections and shortcomings cuts the fangs of the devil, and robs him of the fuel he has to use against us. It's a scary thing, but we are called to be courageous.
I hope that if you take nothing else from this post that you take this: If you're in a similar position, if you've ever worried that your mistakes might catch up with you, if you've ever felt torn between wanting to make a difference but also wanting to cower safely in obscurity, you're not alone. I feel that very same way. We're in it together. Let's see if we can muster courage together too.