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Monday, December 6, 2010

Secrets 12-06-2010

The Wikileaks secrets are still leaking. Most of the documents appear to be trivial and petty. Some of them are serious. All of it stems from words written and spoken in secret places that the participants never dreamed would be read or heard by anyone else. But what was said in private is now public and the international diplomatic world is reeling.

You would think that we would have learned our lesson about secrets. President Nixon and “all the President’s men” thought that they could get away with it. But every word uttered in the oval office found its way into print and into the public. The Watergate tapes ripped the mask off the public image of politics and left an entire generation disillusioned.

Twenty years later, Bill Clinton assumed that what he did in secret would remain secret. But what happened with Lewinsky behind closed doors became public record resulting in the second Presidential impeachment in history. In his autobiography Clinton confessed, “The question of secrets is one I have thought a lot about over the years. … Secrets can be an awful burden to bear, especially if some sense of shame is attached to them . … Of course, I didn’t begin to understand all this back when I became a secret-keeper. …I was always reluctant to discuss with anyone the most difficult parts of my personal life.”

Jesus warned us long ago that our secrets would become public. He said, “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.” And again, He said, “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.”

What we do and say when we are alone, when we think no one else is looking, that is the part of our life that ultimately determines our success or failure. We are defined by our conduct and our conversation in secret. Jesus constantly encouraged his followers to focus on what they did in secret. “When you pray,” He said, “go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” And, “when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Jesus taught that those who say and do things privately that they do not want others to know about are like cups that are only washed on the outside. A slimy green scum continues to grow on the filth that is left on the inside. He compared people who keep up a public image that is not consistent with their secret conduct to marble tombs in graveyards. They appear whitewashed and clean on the outside, but inside they are filled with rotting and decaying bones.

When we do what is right in private, what is seen in public will take care of itself. The most important part of our lives is the secret part.

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