We live in an age where privacy is prized as it is slowly eroded away. Never before have we had such an opportunity to share with so many people who we are, what we believe and what we are doing. At the same time, there is a growing desire among some in our culture to turn it all off and remain hidden, unnoticed. Their thought is that they do not want to share their life with strangers and it is nobody's business what they are doing. There is also another group that thinks it is a useless act of self-display. They ask questions like, "Who's going to be interested in the fact I am grocery shopping." I would like to address this last group first.
There was a time when biographies were important for inspiring people to greatness or at least to things of greatness in the mundane. Children would read and learn about great men and women of the faith. Adults would read about great figures from history. We would read about their victories and defeats, both public and private, and we would be changed. Now we have the opportunity to see a lot more heroes daily and not great people of history. The ordinary guy has become a source of inspiration and hope. I know that I am daily inspired by many of the people in my social network, doing ordinary things in an ordinary way. We know life is not about the extraordinary events but about the faithful daily prodding. I like how people find inspirational moments in their day, in the grocery store, the parking lot, taking the dog for a walk, even in an ordinary conversation with a son over a bowl of cereal. When we share what we are doing and some of our thoughts on our experience in the day, we have no idea who we are inspiring and who we are offering hope to in their day.
There are people who consider it a waste of time and I agree if you fill your day with it and forget to live your life. However it is not a waste if you treat it like a great interactive book that you are writing with some friends. You don't spend all day with your nose in a book, but you do cherish those moments when you can curl up with it. It is also a waste of time if people are not being honest and are trying to project an image. This is where Christians have an opportunity to shed that veneer and allow the real light to shine. We are not perfect and people are turned off when we try to project that we are. Where Jesus is really seen in us is in our weaknesses, our failures, our warts and wrinkles but that is hard for us to share. Jesus taught:
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
A city on a hill is expose at night. In the dark everyone can see the light reaching out. If we hide our life, staying hidden away, no one can see the light of Jesus in us. Jesus told us our life must be on display if that light is going to be seen. We want them to see Jesus, not us but often the real Jesus only shines out as we work through the challenges of life. People want to see how our faith helps us overcome the same things they are trying to overcome. If we do not admit to our addictions, our mistakes, our heartaches, how will they know that Jesus can heal these things?
Jesus' life was definitely on display. The only time he removed himself was when he needed to have some private time with his disciples. In fact, his life was so greatly observed that he was able to say to his accusers:
"I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus replied. "I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said." (John 18:20-21)
I recently met with a pastor who had some questions for me. As we spoke he told me that he had been looking through my Twitter and blog to get to understand me better. At first I was taken aback; it was the first time I had met a lurker and it kind of threw me off. I suddenly felt naked, exposed because he knew many of my thoughts, feelings and the actions I had taken yet I knew very little about him. Even coming home I started thinking about the number of people who could be lurking in the shadows watching my life. My natural reaction was to stop exposing myself so much but after some more thought I reminded myself that this had been my goal, to be accountable and transparent as much as I could. My life is not a shining example but a series of failures. However, Jesus has exposed himself in these failures, demonstrating his forgiveness, love and grace. The general thinking is, "if he has done this for me, imagine what he can do for you".
I have a good friend who lives this every day. The best way to describe him is as a bull in a china shop. He gladly exposes his life for the sake of others. He wears his weaknesses and failures but always for the purpose of preaching Jesus. Not everyone can take him. To be honest there are times he is too much for me but I can tell you this, he is genuine. His love is real, his compassion is amazing, he is generous to a fault, he is big, he is loud and he is a great person to have as a friend. He does in person what some of us try to do through technology. He is old school and there is nothing wrong with that because his motivation is the love of Jesus for the lost. Those of us who try to do it with technology need to check our motivation because sometimes we can forget and we start thinking it is all about us. It isn't. It's all about Jesus and the Father's desire for everyone to be saved from the coming judgment. We cannot hide away our lives because the light is shining through us. We need to be willing to be exposed, to be involved, to admit our mistakes, to admit our fears and doubts and then let the world see how Jesus deals with all of it in us.
Some people are going to appreciate it, even if we do not hear from them. Other people are going to misunderstand and think we are self-important. Others are going to hate us because we are exposing things they fear in themselves. All we want is for people to see the active love and grace of Jesus in our daily living because there are people who want to know there are others out there struggling to keep the house in order, who is facing a rotten boss, who loves hockey even though their team constantly fails, who is dealing with a sick child, who understands what it is to feel alone in a crowded house. You working out your salvation daily as your plod along in life can be the greatest inspiration some people need. You are a daily hero, don't hide away the light.