Sin and transparency:Why we all need to come clean - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Sin and transparency:Why we all need to come clean

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Colin Noonan

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Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 2:00 pm | Updated: 1:28 pm, Wed Oct 10, 2012.

I struggle with sin.

Too honest coming from someone writing a faith-based column? Maybe. But I've decided I'm done being silent about my sinful struggles.

Discussions over the past few years have led me to believe that many believers (myself included) hesitate to be transparent about their struggles with sin. Whether it's shame, guilt, fear of judgment or rejection, we prefer to keep the dark areas of our lives, well... in the dark.

In his book, "Authentic Christianity," Ray Stedman suggests many of us live a "big lie" while hiding our failures. "We all tend to fear rejection if we are seen for what we are. The lie is that in order to be liked or accepted we must appear capable or successful."

We're constantly avoiding rejection, acting as if we have it all together.

But does a lack of honesty and transparency when it comes to our failures become a roadblock for God's grace and mercy to be displayed? Are we allowing others to see our loving God in action - reaching down to save us despite our condition?

The Apostle Paul is well known for his humility when it comes to his own weakness with sin. In fact in 1 Timothy, Paul refers to himself not only as a sinner, but "the worst of them all" (1 Timothy 1:15 NLT).

But he follows that up by sharing how God used him so that Christ Jesus could display His patience - even with the worst of the worst. Paul never boasted about his sins to gain attention or focus on his mistakes, but rather to bring attention to the depth of God's love and grace.

I heard a story recently about a man named Chris who lives with a disability that affects his speech, motor skills and, at one point, his ability to control bodily functions. On a houseboat trip with new friends he met at church, Chris suffered an episode where he went to the bathroom and soiled himself in his sleeping bag, covering himself in his own waste.

I can't imagine the shame and embarrassment I would have experienced in that moment.

But what happened next is what turned a potential disaster into a beautiful story.

Helpless and unable to wash himself off, Chris' friends picked him up, carried him into the shower, and spent the rest of their night undressing him and cleaning him off.

The focus of Chris' story wasn't embarrassment. It wasn't shame. It was the loving response that resulted in friends sacrificing themselves to help someone who was in need.

For Chris, it magnified the love that these friends had for him.

I'm not encouraging you to go purchase a billboard with your picture and a top 10 list of things you're most ashamed of. But as believers, our stories should be filled with humility and honesty about our own struggles while allowing Christ and the saving power of His cross to come into focus.

I struggle with sin. But the love that my God has for me is turning a potential disaster into a beautiful story.

• Colin Noonan serves as director of student ministries at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee. Reach him on Facebook or at cnoonan@mvlutheran.org.

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