We describe our essential ―”Walk in Grace” this way: It is essential that we fight the cultural tendency to view only the externals of mankind. This sin is intensified and fully mature in the Bible belt and often appears in the form of legalism, the fear of man and the desire to protect one’s reputation (often spiritually stated as ―testimony). Instead, we walk in transparency knowing that the church is filled with broken people. Through open services, testimonies, and humble leadership we rest in the grace of Christ to change hearts as we honestly profess his power to do so.
Most people don’t care for true transparency, they’d rather have a form of it instead—especially in the South. You can see it in politics, our schools, cities, economies, religion, etc.
Basically, as long as things look good on the outside, everything must be okay. In a sense, I think the cultural acceptance of non-transparency is normal in a religious environment.
When Jesus walked on earth, he lived in a religious environment.
Yes, Rome ruled the land and they were not religious. But the Hebrew people had created a subculture of religious fervor and the religious leaders ruled the consciences of the people. Jesus steps into this society, one very much like our own, and calls people to repentance. He called the unrighteous to abandon their wickedness and follow him. But Jesus reserved his most blistering condemnations for the religious and often railed against them for their lack of transparency, which he called PRIDE.
Matthew 23 is a wonderful example. Over and over Jesus proclaims ―Woe! against the Pharisees. All of his de- nouncements are related to the habit of the religious to pretend to be something they are not. Witnessing, tithing, teaching, discipling…were all done with one purpose in the minds of the religious: What will people think of me? Rather than honor those who walk with religious form, Jesus uses words like murderer, hell, and damnation. Beware of hiding who you really are!
Remember: Of all the groups who followed Jesus, we are probably most like the Pharisees. Jesus’ word for us is to put away the pride which would have us pretend to have it all together, instead to walk in humility and transparency (Matthew 23:11-12).