There is a verse in the Bible where Paul says that he is like open book, meaning he is totally transparent to God and people can see into his life because he has nothing to hide.
“…What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.” (2 Corinthians 5:11 NIV11)
It takes boldness and humility to say “we have nothing to hide, what we are is plain to God and I hope it is also plain to you” – This boldness and humility is the antithesis of fear. Fear of being found out which creates a burden that we are not designed to carry or to live with. This fear opens the door to guilt and shame leading us into secrecy.
I work among some of the most beautiful people on planet earth and it is refreshing to come across people that are like an open book and some of them are as direct and transparent as they can be. If they like you they will tell you if they don’t like you they will tell you that too! Even if sometimes that open book reveals hurts, disappointments, depression, bitterness, and sin.
We live in a world where transparency is an expensive currency. In two more weeks we will to vote again for our political leaders, they are seeking to be elected to their public office again, we had an election less than a year ago!
The issue for me is this: Can I trust them?
I believe that trust is earned in the context of relationships, the more I trust God means the more I know him. The more I trust my family and friends means that I know them and they know me.
As I walk the streets of my community I see posters of different parties and candidates, I see propaganda delivered to my front door, yet to be honest I believe that trust is not just gained by reading a political manifesto, or whether I agree with it or not. I believe that whatever conviction that we may have towards a political view is right now not as important as the issue of trust. Personally, that I can’t just vote on my convictions alone, I do agree that conviction plays an important apart in the whole process but I am old enough to see that unless we can trust those who will be elected then the political exercise is incomplete. Political ideals are just good or bad ideas when they are void of personal character.
Trust is gained in community, in relationships, having the space and the confidence that can I offer my voice and my actions to build up and not destroy, to encourage and not to put down, to strengthen and not to weaken.
To turn away from anger and embrace hope says much about what we are feeding ourselves with. This is what I mean: If I feed my life with negativity, anger and frustration, then my family and friends will quickly tell me that I am really hard to live with! Whatever I am filled with will leak out and it will impact my integrity, positively or not.
Anger will feed bitterness and bitterness divides. I can speak here with some experience, my Dad gave me a Bible for my fifteenth birthday and he wrote a dedication with this verse: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV11) – (He knows me well!)
For me this is prophetic, we can declare a truth with gentleness in order to build, to encourage and to strengthen or we can say harsh words that will stir up anger. We get to choose, we get to vote, we get to select those who speak with gentleness and grace or we get to vote for those who don’t. Don’t get me wrong, gentleness is a powerful force!
When Paul said that “what we are is plain to God”, he means that he is transparent, he does not have anything to hide, and he realises the futility of hiding from God. He hopes that his transparency is contagious, meaning that other people can see it too. What is Paul feeding himself with? He once said that ” For me to live is Christ” and Christ is the ultimate representation of a true servant.
When we hope we embrace possibilities and opportunities and this creates an environment where sometimes failure and success can coexist. I call that environment “GRACE”.
Trust is gained in relationships, transparency is gained when we understand grace and live by it. True grace brings us to the threshold of hope. True grace will make my words sound more gentle and gracious and any manifesto written and lived by grace then is worth paying attention to and when it is practised then it is worth following. That is why I follow Christ and his teaching.
Who am I going to vote for? This is a personal matter, yet my vote is significant because I am committed to seek prayerfully the welfare not just of my community but of those who will be elected. We have an obligation to hold transparency in its right place, so there is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed. Seeking the welfare of the city is the call of every Christian.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV11)