Secrets. They’ve dominated the news over the last few weeks with the release of thousands of secret State Department cables by the website WikiLeaks. There has been plenty of embarrassment for the U.S., and certainly some damage to foreign policy, but maybe not nearly as much as what was first feared. Why? An article by Time’s Fareed Zakaria explains, “The WikiLeaks documents . . . show Washington pursuing privately pretty much the policies it has articulated publicly.” That is, the State Department’s secrets don’t contain too many secrets. Their private words match up quite well to their public words. Kudos to the State Department.
All of this has me wondering about other kinds of secrets, namely, our secrets. A recent study by the University of Michigan revealed that many of us lie about how often we go to church. The research revealed not so much that we intentionally deceive pollsters about our church attendance so much as we have a tendency to deceive ourselves. We consider ourselves more faithful than we really are. Our words match our perception of ourselves but not our actual church-skipping selves. My guess is that church attendance isn’t the only area of life in which we inflate our sense of righteousness. Jeremiah explained that our hearts are “deceitful above all things.” To put it another way, every heart carries around its fair share of secrets.
At first, we might take some consolation in the truth that WikiLeaks has no access to the chambers of our hearts. But that does mean our soul’s thoughts belong to us alone? No. Jesus once told the crowds, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:2-3). God certainly knows whether or not the words of our mouth match the conditions of our hearts. At face value, that’s terrifying news, that God knows our deeds (just read through Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 for an example).
The good news? God knows who we are better than we know ourselves, and loves us anyway. God’s coming, his revealing (of both himself and our hearts) isn’t meant to embarrass us (though it might very well do that) but to bring us salvation. His Truth, if received, sets us free from the need to keep secrets even from ourselves. I mean, if God loves me even though I am a sinner – is there any need to pretend that I am something else? If God loves me despite my faults, why the pretense of perfection? The only person we fool in such instances is ourselves. Better to come clean and be free.