Never let them see you sweat.
That’s the tag line for Dry Idea deodorant. It’s the perfect slogan for selling the product (because who wants pit stains?), but unfortunately, this is also the m.o. of the religious.
When I say religious, I am referring to the Pharisee types seen in the Bible (I really don’t like using the word, “religious,” by the way, but this is fast becoming its popular definition). They were the ones Jesus called whitewashed tombstones, full of dead men’s bones. He said this because they looked good on the outside and followed the rules, but inside were greedy, judgmental, authoritarian, power hungry and uncaring. They followed the letter of the Law, but not the spirit of it. Pharisees are still among us today. I think all of us can get into that mode at times.
At the heart of religion is the idolatry of externals. One way it manifests is that it requires us to ignore what’s going on inside of ourselves and others, so long as everything looks good on the outside. If you have questions, fears or doubts, you better keep it to yourself, or prepare to be shamed. If you struggle with an area of sin, or worse – get caught in sin – prepare to be judged. Or shunned.
This way of thinking keeps people in bondage because it keeps those thoughts and actions from ever being exposed to the light of day. Have you ever had a thought or idea that really sounded right until you said it out loud? I have. I can be so sure of my perspective and then after I say it, think, “Well, that was stupid.” There’s something that happens when secret thoughts are spoken.
But, something else happens when burdens are shared by friends. The load just feels lighter, but if we don’t give each other freedom to talk about what troubles us, the burden gets heavier and heavier. Perhaps fewer Christians would wind up entangled in sin if they felt free to talk about temptations before they gave in to them.
Deep down I think most of us want our true selves to be seen and known – and still loved. Redeemed people don’t really want to live as hypocrites. A life of integrity is so much more attractive.
Ultimately, God is the One who sees and knows us best. He is the One who can handle it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. He is the trustworthy One and the first One to which we should turn.
But how about we also give each other the freedom to make ourselves known now and then? Can we let people be honest?
Can we be honest? Can we let them see us sweat?
I think that’s where it begins – with ourselves.