August 24, 2015 Joseph Swan

Come Out Of The Closet

Many people did believe in Him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (John 12.42 NLT)

It seemed 2010 was the year for ‘coming out’!

Every time you picked up a newspaper there was another report about some celebrity making the decision to come clean about their personal life with the rest of the world. We heard from everyone; from Ricky Martin (no surprise there) to country music singer Chely Wright, to Australian Olympic swimmer, Daniel Kowalski, just to name a few.

Even in Christian circles, it was no different, with the ‘outing’ of singer/songwriter Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp. For many, they admitted that once they had revealed all, they felt a huge weight lifted off them. According to Daniel Kowalski, he stated, “I was tired of living a lie, it was wearing me down.”

This isn’t a new concept. In 1961, Donald Webster Cory (not his real name) published ‘The Homosexual in America’, exclaiming, “Society has handed me a mask to wear. Everywhere I go, at all times and before all sections of society, I pretend.”

‘Coming out’ became a key strategy of the gay liberation movement in the late 60′s to help raise public awareness and counter homophobia. In the 1980′s, gay and lesbian social support groups, some of which were called “coming-out groups,” focused on sharing coming-out experiences with the goal of reducing isolation and again increasing visibility and pride.

We are all different in many ways, yet essentially we are all the same. We all have parts to our lives we keep hidden from others. Fear keeps the real us locked away in a closet and what happens is that we end up living two lives – the one everyone sees and the one nobody does.

I have lived this life. It’s exhausting and lonely.

Just like the believers in Jesus’ day, today is still no different for many followers of Christ. We walk in fear of what others will say and live closeted christianity. We bow to a humanistic society which tells us how to act and who we can be. Just like Donald Webster Cory said, “Society has handed us a mask to wear. Everywhere we go, at all times and before all sections of society, we pretend.”

Society tells us that unless we as Christians be all embracing of everyone and everything, we are out of touch, judgemental and fundamentalistic. It’s ok to have a form of godliness, but please no power. Be silent. Be tolerant. Be accepting. Blend in. We end up living a lie. We end up supporting everything and standing for nothing. As Christians we become weak, powerless and ineffective. Why would anyone want to be a follower of Jesus if this was what we had to look forward to?

Behind the safety of closed church doors we freely express our commitment to God, yet out in the world we hide who God created us to be. I think you can get away with it for short time but then; either the secrecy will cancel out the belief, or eventually the belief will cancel out the secrecy.

I am not advocating hatred or demonstrating on the steps of Parliament, instead, not being afraid to let God’s light shine brightly through our lives. Is a friend at work sick, then offer to pray for them. Is the neighbours lawn overgrown, then mow it. Get off Facebook when you’re on the train and talk to the person next to you. Look for opportunities to do good to strangers. Send an encouraging text. Talk to the cashier. Defend those being bullied. Thank the waiter. Pray for opportunities to talk to people about what God has done for you and then step up when the opportunity presents itself.

Imagine what would happen if God’s people suddenly decided to come out of the closet. To boldly speak out their belief in a God who loves, who forgives, who heals and who restores.

All we need is someone to go first.

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