I’m plowing back through Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount. It never gets old. In Matthew 6, Jesus says (essentially) to be careful about what you do in public. Dallas Willard calls this this principle of secrecy. Pride is insidious, and even as we make a move to be generous or kind or prayerful, pride slides in alongside, even as Paul said it would. So when we do our “acts of righteousness,” when we give, when we pray, when we do anything for God, Jesus warns us to be careful about how it plays in public, and how we care about whether it plays in public at all. Give, fast, and pray in secret, and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
A new thought about this came to me this morning, crystal clear.
God likes secrecy.
We often moan about all that we don’t understand about God. We don’t get why He does or doesn’t answer prayer. We tell ourselves stories about His movement in the world, and criticize each other for not agreeing with the way we tell the story. Things happen to us for seemingly no reason, and our left brains go to work to assign all kinds of intent and reason to God’s action in our lives that would produce the very circumstance that appears so random, perhaps cruel, perhaps glorious. “Why, why, why?” we cry. “Show us Your Glory,” we tell Him, just as Moses did. Make things clear, cut away the ambiguity, give us proof, speak a plain word we can take to the bank.
And God slips into the mist, leaving traces and clues, little more than perpetual potential for doubt.
He kept the secret of the Christ hidden for centuries, and even when He decided to tell it plainly, the telling was swift, outrageous, and frankly, almost too much, too hard to believe. Miracles and blood, and suddenly, the Christ was gone, nothing left but reports of unbelievable events never seen before or since, and humanity went on, pushing and pulling at God, demanding that things be plainer, that He come back out of hiding. Stop leaving things up to the people, we say. Show Your face.
If You are truly God, tell us so. Vibrate sound waves with Your holy Vocal Cords, and strike my eardrums with undeniable proof, proof that can be empirically measured, recorded, and never forgotten.
God smiles, and slips back into the mist, calling us to follow him, like a playful child who knows something the adults don’t, and dares them to give chase.
We are designed for faith.
God-held secrets demand little else.
Who can tell where the wind blows…