All the best thriller programmes have them. The finale. The moment when “who dun it” is laid out with simplicity and brilliance.
I have seen “the great reveal” in real life. But those moments are usually over something more mundane – the “reveals” of living … someone caught stealing from a friend(s) … or mistreating someone in our care … or having an affair … or skimming a percentage at work … or lying about something important to a loved one … And they make television programmes about that as well. Programmes where the participants are eager to air their “dirty laundry” in public. We seem to have an insatiable desire to spectate other’s pain.
Until it is me.
I have been the subject of a “great reveal”. A moment when my secret transgression is thrown back at me. When my “dirty little secret” (as we are so fond of calling others’ transgressions) is picked over by those I know. By those who respect me, who love me, who even look up to me. That isn’t fun. That changes lives. That destroys lives. That makes lives different.
That is the reality. That is the consequence of a reveal when it is me or you. I have seen it happen to others. I have exposed others. And it is always painful. It is always personal. It always changes relationships. It often changes lives. And no one ever wins. Not really. Everyone loses. That is the reality.
“Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” “ Luke 12:1-7
If we have a relationship with God Soft Hands Jesus (or whatever your name for your God), why do we ever have “scandal” in church … abuses by those we trust … bitter recriminations between “brothers and sisters in Christ” … fallings-out … ?
Why do we have all the stuff of real life – warts and all – scandals and all … ?
The last time I looked we believe in a God who knows the hairs on our head, our every thought, our every desire, our every “everything” … Last time I looked we draw together to worship this God … praise this God … offer prayers of intercession to this God … ask this God to guide our very lives 365/24/7 …
What’s that … ?
Yes, I do hear the standard response: “Church is full of imperfect and fallen sinners, Paul – just like you and me.“ (along with the stuff about grace and redemption and salvation and all that).
I am a father. I have children. We have a family. I am familiar with “I am sorry – I won’t do that again.” (repeated on a regular basis). Young children do that a lot – just as parents address that a lot. Parents usually wish their children to know integrity, honesty, respect for others, to treat others as they wish to be treated themselves. It is not necessarily a religious or God thing – it’s just how we all get along together.
But almost any parent would take a view should the apology be something the child says simply to end the “dressing down” – the “telling off” – the “consequence” – your child – who has learned to play the system when caught.
So then why do WE go to church each week to do the very same thing to the very God we worship? And why do we quite happily justify it – make it part of Sunday … expect it on a weekly basis … mention it if the “forgive us our sins as we forgive others” bit is missed out?
I only ask because – having been washed clean (again) – we go home and have very different standards of ourselves and each other. Is there not a similarity between that and a young child who “plays the system”?
“Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.”
For me, that is NOT something for “The Second Coming” – which we seem to view as “The Great Reveal in the Sky” (that we will spectate sometime distant from our own future).
Nothing is covered up … nothing secret …
That is today … right now … this very second (and the next).
Because what else could it mean when we worship a God who “knows the hairs on our head, our every thought, our every desire, our every “everything” … ” ?