This Thing Called Transparency
At the outset of this commentary, it should be stated that the opinions stated herein are the byproduct of closely watching the actions of people over the years. It would be human nature for one to read this article and try to attach names to it. If one does so then they are doing something this author is not intending.
So much is happening so quickly in the universe of our Southern Baptist Zion that people cannot absorb all that is being said and done. Many things are sliding right past the conscious minds of people which are extremely important. Fewer people are analyzing what is being said and more of them are evaluating things based on personal feelings and what "just seems right to me." A good example of what this writer sees is this thing we call transparency. Everyone wants to be known as a person who is honest, clean, wholesome and transparent. Transparency is nothing more than a public and personal display of a life which is based on truth and goodness. It is a characteristic of a life lived in such a way that the one living it doesn't mind if anyone and everyone sees him as he actually is. He is open. He welcomes investigation knowing that one will find nothing that he would not want discussed or openly known.
Transparency is not a trait a person acquires only after they are caught in some sin or failure. For one to suddenly desire transparency when he is caught is like the thief who is sorry for his actions only after he is arrested. Suddenly the person seeks to appear noble by being transparent. Why wasn't he so interested in that transparency before? If he had been, then he probably wouldn't have found himself in a pickle because he was involved in some action that he could not be transparent about. But, all of a sudden, with his hand in the cookie jar, this person tries to engender some sense of nobility and honesty by showing people how sorry he is and how transparently he can deal with it.
There is a huge problem here that most are letting go right past them. Most people will extol the virtues of the transparency of the person involved. They will speak of him in glowing terms and point to his bravery and honesty. Remember, by this time the person is appealing to honesty and transparency only because it pays him to do so. The failing fades into the background as the quality of transparency is elevated to a status that it does not command. The problem is that many people will reveal their lack of spiritual maturity by equating transparency with repentance. Repentance deals with sin in the right way. Transparency does not deal with the sin. It only begs for tolerance in how the person is evaluated or treated. The Holy Spirit of God will lead us into a life that can be lived in a transparent way. The world and its sinful ways will cause a willing person to fall into that which must be hidden. So, just because a person is suddenly transparent, we must not ascribe to him some kind of noble status which is far short of repentance. This writer has noted that those who suddenly become transparent under pressure will reveal only what is necessary. One will often find that there is more to the story which the sudden transparency didn't get around to dealing with.
My concern is that we can observe that many people confuse transparency with repentance and are perfectly happy with their conclusion. The individual who is suddenly so transparent is held up as a spiritual person of high moral character due to his willingness to "come clean" and be transparent. One living in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit will not find himself in such a position as having to appeal to transparency for survival and sympathy. Remember, a person begging transparency is usually doing so because he is caught and facing severe consequences.
So, the point is made. Transparency is not and cannot be equated with repentance. One would have to be evaluating a spiritual situation from an emotional position to think that it can be. In fact, for a person to have to appeal to transparency in the midst of a discovered sin is for them to use it for a selfish purpose when that very quality, transparency, should be a normal byproduct of a Godly life. To have to appeal to it says that it was not a part of that person's life beforehand.
May we all live our lives in such obedience to the guidance of God's Holy Spirit that we would live transparency and not have to appeal to it.
William F. Harrell