Oh, the things I did as a kid that no one knows about. The time I accidentally shot a BB gun through someone’s window. The time I tried to throw a dart into an acoustic ceiling and hit a glass light fixture instead. (Hey, I’m only telling these things to you. So don’t rat me out.)
That was half a century ago. But I still remember, and still feel a pang of shame.
Now that I’m a responsible and mature adult, of course, I never ever do, think, or say anything I regret. I have no secrets. My life is an open book.
When we were kids, we got into mischief, in big ways and little, by intention, stupidity, or accident. We hid things from our parents because we didn’t want to get into trouble. And truth be told, some of us grew up with parents who overreacted and responded with punishments that went far beyond the crime.
But what about now? We’re supposed to be grownups. Hopefully, we’ve learned a little wisdom and self-control along the way. But we’re no stranger to bad behavior and evil thoughts. If we hid our shameful secrets from our parents, do we hide sin from God?
In John 3, we read this:
God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son. This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. (John 3:17-20, CEB)
It’s true that in our sin, we deserve the holy wrath of God, and John will not shy away from saying so (e.g., 3:36). But here, he portrays Jesus as being sent not to condemn but to save. The tragedy is that we can be so accustomed to darkness that we run in fear from the light, so steeped in lies that we cannot accept and confess the truth.
John has told us from the very beginning of the gospel what to expect in his story of Jesus: the True Light comes into a darkened world, and instead of flocking to the Light, people will take refuge in the shadows.
We don’t want our secrets exposed.
Not to God, even though he already knows.
Not to others, who may judge and condemn.
And perhaps not even to ourselves, which may be the saddest lie of all.