Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Plagues that kill the church: (2) Deep Dark Secrets

While I was enjoying my time in a mall last Saturday, I walked inside a bookstore and browsed through some titles. On a rack near the kids' section was a very interesting comic book entitled "What to Do After a Break-Up." Although it did not apply to me, my detective eyes told my indecisive hands to just grab it and check it out. And so I did. I wasn't able to identify the "to do's," but rather I saw a crazy horrid act that I would never want done to me. There was this slumber party where girls would hangout, bond, do each other's hair, talk about boys, etc. Then one girl went to the bathroom for a while, not knowing that she left her diary lying on her bedside table inviting a couple of unwanted detective eyes. Her so-called friend lifted the book open and discovered her ultimate secret. This "friend" photocopied the pages of her diary and posted them on every wall of their school.

It does not matter what the secret of this girl was. All of us have our own deep dark secrets. They may involve a secret sin, a disturbing habit, a funny physical attribute, a dirty past or even a friend, a relative or a partner you are ashamed of having. At the end of the day, we want to be the ones to tell these secrets to people we trust. We don't want our secrets exposed, rather we want them disclosed. But if we are truly honest with ourselves we know that we still have secrets that we have not told anyone and perhaps we have no plans of telling anyone. After all, secrets are not meant to be told. That's what we've been taught while we were still in kindergarten.

You may be going to church every Sunday. You may also be active in church ministries, or be the one leading them. And you have a secret. You don't want anybody to find out because they might just judge you for who you are. You might lose their respect. You are afraid that they'd laugh at you or kick you out. You are ashamed.

I'm not sure if you have a girlfriend that you know your trusted brothers in Christ won't approve of. At night, while everyone is sleeping, you lock your bedroom door, turn off the lights and watch porn online. You secretly despise a friend. You stick a couple of fingers in your throat for you to vomit all the fatty foods you had for dinner. You are smoking when no one's looking. You are struggling with lust over the same-sex. You are an orphan. You were abused. You hurt yourself. You are broken-hearted. You are weak.

Secrets are secrets because they are not something you can brag about. They are usually packaged in a combo of four: a sinful gratification, fear of truth, fear of rejection and shame. They may also come in one's, two's or three's. Believe it or not, a secret is an unnecessary burden and trap. As a burden, it lies heavily in your heart. Sometimes you wish to tell it to someone, to "divide the pain", but you just can't. You can't bear the shame. There are also actions & words you have to consciously avoid, things you always have to keep hidden making it a trap.

What to do, what to do. There’s actually something better than writing in a diary. As members of the body of Christ, each of us has to firstly own our shameful identity, accept who we really are and acknowledge that we need help from Jesus Christ! Only through Him will we be fully transformed. Through His death on the cross, He suffered the shame which was supposed to be our shame. He exchanged His righteousness for our sins.

Don’t be afraid to take off your holier-than-thou mask and admit that you are silently struggling with sin. It is dangerous to bear it alone. You may fall apart with no one noticing. That’s why God has blessed you with a community filled with brothers and sisters who are willing to encourage you in your journey (hopefully they are not hit by plague #1). More than a team running a race together for the Lord, God has given you a family. I urge you to share your REAL burdens, establish REAL relationships, fervently pray for REAL struggles and have REAL heartfelt prayers lifted up to the Lord. Then you will experience REAL healing and enjoy REAL fellowship.

Should you choose to continue living the lie, you will find yourself singing this song:

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

~ Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns

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