I’ve been noticing something that abusive church leaders do that needs to be brought into the light. There is a practice amongst certain kinds of church leaders that plays on the egos and pride of unsuspecting people who look up to them. It’s called, “let me bring you into my confidence” and it’s usually followed by “you are only one of a few who I am telling this to so make sure you don’t tell anyone.” It allows them to slander, gossip, backbite, make up stories, cures and lie about people and the power of secrecy keeps the offenders from being caught or the real issues from being dealt with. Variations of this are… “for some reason I really feel like I can trust you and tell you things that I can’t tell to anyone else.” Or… “I’m really trusting you with this information, it’s really sensitive and people can be hurt so don’t tell anyone.” It gives the person a sense of power and feeling better than others because they have information no one else has and thus plays into their pride and ego. It also keeps that person connected to the abusive pastor because they feel like they’ve been trusted and brought into an “inner circle.” In one case, certain pastors and elders used the term “enlightenment” in the context of… come and meet with us privately and we will “enlighten” you as to why this person is so bad, but keep it quiet. All the tactics of cult leaders and unscrupulous men who have no convictions, morals, ethics or honesty.
The Bible is very clear. 1 John 1:5-7… This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
The basis of relationship in the Kingdom of God is walking in the light. If someone is bringing you into their confidence to gossip or slander about someone… not only is it potentially illegal and a violation of the laws concerning defamation of character, but it is unethical, deceitful and a clear violation of scripture. I recently had someone tell me, I was told a whole bunch of awful things about you, but I can’t tell you because I would be violating a confidence. In their mind it’s okay to violate scripture in order to keep from violating a confidence. I heard of another person who came from a church that was actively calling all their friends, workers and new church contacts and defaming their character with justification that they were doing the right thing. In their mind it was okay to break the law concerning defamation of character because they perceived themselves as doing good. Or maybe you’ve heard someone say… I’ve been told all about you. All it does is it allows people to continue a culture of deception without any visible means of exposing it and bringing it into the light where it can be handled because everyone has been brought into the “confidence” of a deceitful person.
Jesus provides a clear methodology in Matthew 18 for handling all kinds of information. Step 1… go directly to the source. If someone tells me about something that was said by another person, I go to that person. Sometimes I break the confidence of the person who told me, but I’m obligated to walk in obedience to scripture and that is a higher standard than someone who chooses to gossip to me. It also brings it out into the light of conversation and whatever the real issues are they can be dealt with. I’m always surprised when people make statement to others that they’ve never made to me personally. Doesn’t that surprise you? Doesn’t it surprise you when others will share what they perceive to be “dirt” on a person before actually going to that person? It should. It should shock you as much as stealing, murder, adultery, etc. because it’s listed in the same list as they are (Romans 1:28-32). It also demonstrates such a lack of love and friendship towards people. Paul writes in Galatians 5:13-15…
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
Paul in writing to the Corinthians warned them because they were maintaining a culture that was divisive and for this reason they were taking communion unworthily. Now, many have taken this scripture to mean if you are unsaved you are taking communion unworthily. Others have said if there is sin in your life. Others have said if you have something against your brother. However, Paul was addressing a culture that leaders within a community had established that created divisions and factions. Behind every culture of division is a cult of secrecy whereby gossip, slander and backbiting can pass freely undetected – yet have the power to build allegiances that separate people. Paul even says that for this reason many people are sick and dying… because there is no power to heal in that community. The Spirit is quenched. Their communion is not consistent with the work of the cross and the forgiveness that Jesus has given to all and thus it is communion that is done unworthily.
Another way this cult of secrecy comes up is when it comes to personal history. In our day of facebook, internet, myspace, twitter… personal information is not hard to come by. I am always suspicious of someone who is evasive about their past, present or future. When I can’t verify a person’s history, it makes me wonder what they are trying to cover up. When someone can’t tell me what their plans are, where they are going, what they are involved in… then I wonder why can’t they be honest. Of course, it is possible they work for CTU and Jack Bauer will terminate their employment if they talk!!! But, mostly it reminds me of someone who has something to hide. Con artists pretending to be ministers will often use these tactics to gain position in order to influence a group of people towards their agendas. No history means you can’t stop me. No history means you can’t warn others about me. If a person doesn’t have a history that is extensive with people who are currently in their lives that can verify that history, be careful. It doesn’t matter if they are extremely transparent in their recent history. People use heartbreaking stories to gain sympathy and trust in order to manipulate and con. If someone is unwilling to take the time to be known in a community, be careful. It is our history with others that brings out our humanity.
Contrast that to someone who is out in the open. There is the ability to trust. Their history, good or bad is out in the open. Their relationships verify their history… giving them humanity. There is genuine love and affection when relationships are maintained even when everyone knows their faults. This is the basis for true community. We all blow it, everyone knows we blow it, but when working relationship are maintained in spite of what we know about each other, it’s a testimony of the Grace of God.
Here is the bottom line… when you’re in the light… you see all your faults and failures… you see all your goodness and successes… it’s all out in the open. And when you blow it, the blood of Jesus Christ covers every sin. Love covers a multitude of sins. That’s the way it’s designed to be. So let’s walk in the light as He is in the light.