Transparency and Freedom

woman_at_the_well

However, their minds were hardened, for to this day the same veil is still there when they read the old covenant. Only in union with Christ is that veil removed. Yet even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are being transformed into the same image with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit. (2Co 3:14-18 ISV)

Recently I had an exchange with a sister with whom I was in high school. We didn’t know one another back then other than by sight. In fact I find that I really knew very few people back then because of the veil we all projected for fear that we would not be loved for being simply who we were. There was always someone looking for a way to get a leg up and over another person so that they would look good and appear above the rest at their expense.

There is the spiritual man and then there is the carnal or worldly man. The world has been all about hiding and intrigue ever since Adam and Even sinned and covered themselves with fig leaves and hid from God. Men prefer darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

Anyway, my exchange by email with this sister (who I really met for the first time at recent at a high school reunion) has been going very well, because we can now communicate spirit to spirit with transparency because we both have the Holy Spirit within us and have been maturing in Christ.

It is interesting to read the gospels and Jesus’ encounter with the people of Israel in light of transparency or the lack thereof. Most didn’t have a clue where He was coming from or what He was saying. His greatest appeal to most of them was the fact that He could heal or give them a free meal when hungry. But there were a small handful that He could speak to who had an unveiled face and nothing to hide. Take the Samaritan woman at the well, for instance. What a contrast this “sinner” was with the learned Jews who constantly sough to trap Him from behind their veiled faces… the very meaning of the word hypocrite! To her He revealed great spiritual truths that the learned Pharisee, Nicodemus, couldn’t begin to understand and she was a “sinner” and a “dog” in their eyes. Her unveiled face and honesty made all the difference.

The root of the word hypocrite according to Merrium-Webster:

Middle English ypocrite, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin hypocrita, from Greek hypokritēs actor, hypocrite, from hypokrinesthai

These Greek actors wore masks to deceive and play the part of the person they portrayed. Their faces were “veiled.” So we see Jesus calling these sanctimonious, learned Jews who sought to trap him, hypocrites. He never once called a sinner, harlot, or a publican or even a hated Roman by that name. They all knew that they needed help and came to Jesus, the Great Physician, for that help and he turned none of them away. When criticized by the religious Jews for having contact with the sinners Jesus said, “Those who are whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.”

Have you, as one of His saints, every had a religious person come up to you and fain that they really liked you and wanted to be taken into their confidence, only to find that once you revealed to them what you really felt or believed,  they then turned on you and tried to capture or attack you in their vein philosophies and self-righteousness? Have you ever been wounded by such people simply because you laid open your heart to them and then were trampled into the ground? I have.

Jesus warned us to “be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.” He warned us not to spill our pearls before swine because first they will stomp your pearls in the mud and then turn and tare you apart! Transparency is something that makes us vulnerable, but you will see in the Gospels that Jesus was cautious with the Pharisees and Scribes, but open with those who the Father gave Him. In fact He prayed regarding this contrast saying,

“’O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.’ My Father has given me authority over everything. No one really knows the Son except the Father, and no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luk 10:21-22 NLT)

Dear saints, we should be able to be “open faced” with one another, because the love of God compels us to reach out to one another in the bond of Christ as members of His body. If we find that we are being betrayed by a person we confided in or that they never reveal what is in their hearts to us and heart to heart communication is a one way street, chances are that we are dealing with either a wounded person that has not been healed or a hypocrite. Remember, our enemy has sown tares in among the wheat in the Father’s field.

But, oh, what a joy it is when we can communicate in loving safety with another in the Spirit and go away knowing we have found a true member of our Spiritual family and just been edified by the experience. This experience keeps us searching and hoping for a broader manifestation of the kingdom of God where unveiled faces abound. Remember, “Only in union with Christ is that veil removed.”

What a promise there is connected if we live with an unveiled face! “As all of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are being transformed into the same image with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit.” Transparency leads to transformation! We are not being conformed to this world, but transformed into the same image of Jesus Christ by the mind of Christ within whom we behold with open faces and are changed from glory to glory. Remember it is for freedom that Christ has set us free and with that freedom comes transparency and a release from all fear. This transparency affords the revelation of Christ’s true beauty deep from within, the beauty of the Lamb abiding there.

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17 comments on “Transparency and Freedom

  1. Carina says:

    Transparency is one missing quality in many “Christian” environments. There is an unspoken rule that you have to look spiritual if you want to get anywhere in the system. I suppose there is also that natural desire to please that leads us to present ourselves as better than (or just different from ) we actually are. Judgmentalism when we DO open our hearts and show our struggles doesn’t help. The institutional, clergy bias, the idea that the pastor is somehow wiser, more knowledgeable, more experienced, and yes, superior, leads the “sheep” to be yes-people seeking the king’s favor.

    The other day the Lord reminded me of moments of precious confidence with brothers and sisters. We had a little group in our former congregation, and from time to time we met in houses after the service. Our informal meetings started around 11 PM and usually finished at dawn. We had a meal. We talked about the Lord. We saw a movie. We debated the topic of the movie or whatever came to mind. We shared verses we’d received recently. We shared testimonies. We prayed for each other. We did what the Lord’s Spirit led us to do. It was perhaps the most authentic experience of “church” I’ve ever had. Far better than the scripted “service” or “prayer meeting” in most “churches”, where you can really share your heart with perhaps one or two people (if you’re lucky!) only AFTER the ritual is over.

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    • Carina, it sounds like you and I have had many of the same experiences and I know that there are many others who have as well. I have noticed that in churches and even in businesses the character of the CEO is transmuted down the line into the whole staff and even the way the people in that system treat their customers. Like children, we tend to learn more by what we observe than we do by official company policy or doctrine. This is why living IN Christ with one another determines the outcome, not dogma.

      Your informal meetings sound terrific… God’s version of family night. The early church didn’t have movies to watch together, but they did have informal love feasts like yours, just the same. The world said of them, “Behold how they love one another,” and it was a witness to the world that could not be silenced. I also had a home meeting like the one you described that was part of the church we were going to. Those were marvelous times and we all grew in Christ so much while they were going on. It was so sad that the management of the church changed and meetings like ours were soon a thing of the past as we chose to remain “under their authority.” Men rise up and put their hands on what God is doing and soon the life of the Spirit leaves every time. Family life is very delicate. As soon as it is forced or tampered with and no longer molded by the love of God, the life leaves and all you have left is dead religious activities. God is or FATHER, Jesus is our BROTHER and we are all siblings. The ecclesia is the family of God and nothing else.

      All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
      (Joh 1:3-4 KJ2000)

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      • Carina says:

        I so miss those meetings. Unfortunately, the main couple who organized the meetings had disagreements with the pastor and left in bitterness. A real tragedy because they were great people and they seemed mature… But they started listening to and reading doctrines which were against what was being preached at our place, so they confronted the pastor about their concerns… You know how it goes. Neither party was gracious to the other. Denominationalism kills. I suppose the pastor is more to blame because he didn’t show the humility he should have. What really saddens me is not that this couple are “unchurched”, because that in itself is great… But the fact they haven’t forgiven and are struggling to come to terms with what happened. That’s what the system does. When it expels you, many of us find it hard to find our identity in Christ outside the traditional “church” experience.

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      • Carina wrote, “You know how it goes. Neither party was gracious to the other.” Part of the problem is that the institutional church system is really a monarchy instead of a gathering of saints who seek to serve one another in Christ. In Catholicism there is one pope, but in Protestantism there are hundreds of thousands of them, each ruling over their congregations. So when the local leader (pastor) is teaching something questionable, no one dares to confront him for fear of repercussions. Once you fall into disfavor with the pastor, then the shunning by the rest of his followers begins. Many of them insist on the members coming “under their authority” and “covering.” This is also a travesty and a twisting of the scriptures. Paul was plain in his speech when he wrote, “The covering of every man is Christ…” Christ is the Head of the Church, His body, and we are all to submit to one another as the members of our physical body depend on each part to survive. Peter wrote:

        1Pe 5:5 Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

        When was the last time you saw this happening in the church. I am almost 69 years old and have been following the Lord for over 43 years, but there isn’t a “church” in this town that would welcome me as an elder who has had many experiences in the church and learned many valuable things that could profit the younger members… that is what biblical “eldership” is. Also, when was the last time you saw each member in a congregation submitting to one another in humility? No, they follow the example of the leadership and many seek to lord-over one another and vie to gain the leaders approval and by doing so, hope to be made a member of his church staff. Eldership in churches is often determined by how successful a man is in the world and how much power they have in business and how much money. It is just the opposite of how it should be (see James 2:1-7).

        In short, the church system today more resembles the world system than the kingdom of God here on earth under the headship of Christ. I often miss the dear saints I knew and loved in that system, but I don’t miss the abuse of power and intrigue.

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  2. oikoskrk says:

    Wow, great and profound words my brother. Transparent….I do not know any other way to truly live in Him and bear fruit. Has it been used against me? Yes, many times…but the relational benefits far outweigh the downside.

    Love,

    Christopher

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  3. Mike Messer says:

    I loved this Michael! So true and beautiful! My experience has been very much like yours. Since I was a young boy, the “religious spirit” through people like you wrote about, and Jesus dealt with, inflicted guilt and shame on me. Praise God for His mercy in revealing Himself to us, and in us, to set us free!!

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  4. Russell S. Tripovich says:

    Everyone seems to have an agenda. Life is not an act as many seem to believe. To truly live in that fearless freedom, it is necessary to go way beyond past wounds, to a place where vulnerability, that is a willingness, to be misunderstood, reviled, hated, rejected, is located. Absolutely no reactive defense or emotional fleshly responses are there. I found this place to be His power, His Life. I long for it uninterrupted. A place where we die to every agenda, mortify the, “willing our own will upon another” which is simply witchcraft. The one who truly wants the revealing of how real Jesus is, wants every deed to be shown to have been manifested in God.
    Let all there secret plans through intrigue form. No Hypocritical weapon formed against us prospers when the Holy Spirit of His unveiled face lives in and through us. Thank you MIchael, bless you brother.

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    • Russell,
      I see great maturity and experience in your words here. You wrote, “To truly live in that fearless freedom, it is necessary to go way beyond past wounds, to a place where vulnerability, that is a willingness, to be misunderstood, reviled, hated, rejected, is located.” This place sounds like my experience in churches to me. “Absolutely no reactive defense or emotional fleshly responses are there. I found this place to be His power, His Life. I long for it uninterrupted. A place where we die to every agenda…” I can not say that this was true of me in my earlier life experience, but later years when tribulation happened and I found myself being rejected, I just walked away.

      Standing in Christ’s purpose in each situation is what is needed. I think we have these harrowing experiences (the meaning of tribulation — to be run over by a harrow, to be plowed fine and broken up) that we might be workable in the hands of the Lord so He can plant what HE wants in the field. Jesus said, “Every plant that my father has not planted shall be rooted up.” Running from those harrowing experiences in life is not always good for “tribulation works patience.”

      And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.
      (Rom 5:3-5 KJ2000)

      I think the question is, are we letting God bring what He may in our lives to mature us and growing in His love by it or are we running from the “fix” He has for us. Even Jesus had to learn obedience to the Father by the things that He suffered. May we be found faithful in Christ in each of out life experiences and be found with open faces before God and men.

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      • Russell S. Tripovich says:

        Running the race set before us, without being entangled in self defense, self pity, or any other such flesh. As you said brother, It’s not about us. So let’s submit to the full harrowing until all the rough places are smooth and the crooked places straight. Yes patience, until He has His way, and by His love the “fix” is wrought. so be it.

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  5. bill says:

    Michael, you say…..I think the question is, are we letting God bring what He may in our lives to mature us and growing in His love by it or are we running from the “fix” He has for us.

    I think many times we run from the *fix*, which I see as simply OUR CROSS. Each day is different with different situations and circumstances and that’s why Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily.

    I do strongly sense that for those who truly want to *go on* with the Lord, who truly desire to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, in these the mysterious and marvelous work of the cross will be so fully wrought that their testimony will be out of a full heart of experience, “I am crucified with Christ, however I live. Yet not I, it’s Christ Who LIVES!!!”

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  6. Sandor says:

    Dear Michael! Thanks for your thinkings in the Lord about the Transparency and Freedom. I have translated into Hungarian and posted it on my Blog above. God bless you. Sandor

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    • Michael says:

      Dear Sandor,
      Thanks for your note about this article. I am honored to hear that you have translated my blog article into Hungarian and shared it. I clicked on your gravatar and notice you wrote, “Follower of Jesus Christ on an uncompromised way. Pioneer, who try to walk on from traditions cleaned way. This is the way of minority only.” Yes, this is the minority way… walking away from the world system and the systems of the worldly church as well. Jesus was criticized and eventually killed because He lived in His Father’s kingdom and came to proclaim it, not to indorse the kingdoms of men, including that bloody city, Jerusalem and its murderous leadership. Some things never change. Today that same murderous heart is found in Babylon the Great and her daughters, churches filled with the traditions of men that defy any obedience to the Holy Spirit of Christ who He sent among us. Once a person has experienced the sweet wind of the Spirit and yielded to HIS direction, there is no going back to the stale air of religion. Yes, in many ways we are pioneers… we for sure are pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land, just as Abraham was and it forces us to seek that City whose Builder and Maker is God that has Christ alone as its Foundation.
      God bless you, my brother!

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  7. Sandor says:

    Dear Michael, I agree on your thinking totally. We are really sent forth people as Josef. To give food to our brothers when they will be in need. Sandor

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