I have secrets. You do, too… And Robin Williams, the great comic actor who committed suicide just months after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, had his secrets. Laughing on the outside, dying on the inside. His daughter Zelda, scrambling to understand her father’s “permanent solution to a temporary problem,” wondered aloud to the media why the love so many had offered him couldn’t rescue him. She couldn’t conceive of her dad’s desperate plight, because he kept the sources of his pain secret.
We are a society built on secrets. The other day I told my wife I was angry with her because she woke from a sound sleep to let our dog out when I was already up and could’ve done that myself. The real reason I was angry—the secret I was hiding but didn’t know it—was that I gain a sense of identity when I come through for her, and she’d taken that away from me. It’s hard to write these words—and probably confusing for you to read them—but it’s true. We keep things secret because our whole world is built on a shaky foundation, and we’re just trying to hold it together.
If we, like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, were surrounded by hidden cameras that captured every aspect of our daily life—the secret and the public—how would that alter the way people see us? Life for so many is about our carefully crafted personas; we drain our energy campaigning to prop up the identity we must have to survive. And when we capitulate on that identity—when we either choose to or are forced to give others a glimpse of our soul’s reality—we are standing on a terrible precipice.
It’s the same precipice Jesus stood on when He was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness: “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”’ Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him” (Matthew 4:8-11). What happens here is not merely a proposed business transaction. No, it is Satan playing poker with Jesus—challenging the investment He has in His identity with an offer “too good to refuse.” But Jesus has an ace in the hole, and it is this: “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me…” (John 14:30). Because Jesus has no secrets that he is not willing to reveal, and because there is nothing hidden in Him, the enemy of God has no leverage—“he has nothing in Me.” Secrets are a necessary prerequisite for the leveraging schemes of the evil one. No secrets means no leverage. That’s just how things work…
I once asked my pastor and friend Tom Melton if he’s ever cautious or anxious when he’s vigorously undermining the “schemes of the devil.” In that moment he cemented my respect, because he said this: “I’m not afraid of him—what can he do to me?” That wasn’t hubris talking—that was a man broken-and-redeemed talking. When your secrets have been outed, and when your façade identity has been jackhammered, the leverage your enemy has been using to destroy you is gone. And we have a choice in our moments and seasons of humiliating clarity—we can begin our feverish rebuilding campaign for a new propped-up identity, or we can give ourselves to Jesus more vulnerably, more completely, and more intimately and unreservedly than we ever have before.
Jesus says: “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.” (Mark 4:22). This isn’t a threat—it’s simply a description of what life is like in the Kingdom of God. All hidden things will be public things, and there will be no leverage points for sin to grow and fester… The enemy of God will be out of bullets, because we will be out of secrets…
Rick (firstname.lastname@example.org and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for 26 years. He’s author of the just-released book Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (simplyyouthministry.com). He wrote the books Sifted (www.siftedbook.com) and Shrewd (www.shrewdbook.com) and the upcoming Skin In the Game (2015) as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.