Is it going to be scary to be transparent? Yes. It’s a risk, but look at what God’s love does to eliminate that fear. We read in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
The love of God helps us to be transparent with others. We must find our security, acceptance and our identity in our relationship with Jesus Christ. One man asked Jesus, What’s the most important thing. Of everything, what’s most important? Jesus said in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” We must first start with intimacy with God though Christ, because he said, “The second most important thing is like it, to love your neighbour as yourself.”
Accepting our Identity in Christ
If we don’t accept ourselves—find our security in Christ, find our identity in Christ—we cannot have true transparency with others, and that is one of the biggest problems we have in relationships today. If we consistently criticise ourselves, we will be convinced that everyone else is criticising us. If we don’t trust ourselves, we are not going to trust anyone else.
Here are a few truths about our security, our acceptance and our identity in Christ—In Jesus Christ:
- I am free forever from condemnation, I am protected.
- I cannot be separated from the love of God, I am a citizen of heaven and I am born of God, and the devil cannot touch me.
- I am God’s child, I am Christ’s friend, I have been bought with a price.
- I belong to God, I am a member of Christ’s body.
- I am the salt and light of the earth, a personal witness of Christ’s, a new creation.
- I am God’s co-worker, on a mission for him.
This security, acceptance and identity in Christ empowers us to accept ourselves, and that empowers us to accepts others. The more I accept these things as true, the more secure I become—and the more I am willing to take risks to be transparent. We must find our security, our acceptance and our identity in our relationship with Christ!
Jesus wept—he allowed himself to be vulnerable and became a model for transparency.
Possibly you are reading this and thinking to yourself: I lack transparency. My marriage isn’t where it needs to be. I’ve lost trust. I’m afraid. I don’t have great Christian friends. I need to take a prayerful relational risk. It might mean you don’t go to bed tonight until you open up with your spouse and say, Let’s do business. Let’s be real with each other for a change.
Or it might mean reaching out to someone this week. You take a prayerful risk when God leads you, and you will see—God will bless and honour your stepping out like that. Is it risky? Absolutely. Could you get hurt? Yes, you could, but it is more dangerous not to take this risk. This is a risk you cannot afford not to take.
What Transparency Is—and Is Not
I want to try and explain what transparency is not:
- Transparency is not an excuse to tell a person how you are really feeling or what you really think of them. That’s important, and we need to be careful—you know, in the sense of ripping them to shreds or telling them all the things you don’t like about them. Telling somebody off is not being transparent—it is being brutal and unkind. We are called to be truthful but tender at the same time.
- Transparency is not just unloading everything that is going on in your life to every person you meet. You know, the ‘garbage truck’ response—my ‘truck of life’ is full and overflowing with stuff and I need to unload it anywhere. This is not true transparency and it can be very unhealthy and dangerous as well. We should be careful here. You may feel a bit better getting it off your chest but you have just left your ‘mess’ in someone else’s lap. Also, unless you are willing to really talk about these things and deal with these things, you are not truly being transparent. Ask God to help you be wise with this approach.
So, what is transparency then? The Bible has some great examples: Jesus who cried at Lazarus’ death. We all know this as the shortest verse in the Bible: John 11:35, “Jesus wept”. If you know the story, Lazarus was his friend, and Jesus knew that he had a plan in allowing Lazarus to die. So why does he cry? He cries because he sees Lazarus’ sisters, Lazarus’ family and friends’ hurt and pain and also because Lazarus was his close friend too.
Jesus allows himself to be vulnerable by allowing the people there to see what was really going on in his heart. He was hurting and he was grieving the loss of his friend. Did Jesus have to do that, a Saviour crying? I don’t think so—but he chose to and thus he modelled what it means to be transparent.