By Not Known
A friend recently sent me the following story entitled ‘Walking the Dog’. It was about a flight from Seattle to San Francisco which was unexpectedly diverted to Sacramento. And it was announced that there would be a delay for an hour but passengers could get off and re-board. Everyone got off the plane except one lady who was blind. Apparently, she was a frequent flier because the captain approached her and called her by name. “Kathy, we are stopping in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?” The blind lady said, “No thanks, but maybe Buddy (her dog) would like to stretch his legs.”
Now imagine what happened. The captain walked off the plane with the guide dog â€• even worse, he was wearing sunglasses. Apparently people in the waiting area began to stare and then to scatter. They not only tried to change planes, they tried to change airlines!
Things are not always what they appear. People are not always who they appear. That was a message Jesus constantly stressed, particularly in relation to the scribes and Pharisees and to religious practices. He warned against jumping to judgement based just on appearances, and stressed again and again the importance of the internal over the external.
The Lord’s prayer in Matthew is set in the context of appearances and secrecy. Certain things about our faith must be visible and public. We are called to be lights to the world. But there are other things about our faith that should be kept secret. The idea of being secret Christians may sound strange, but Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount tells us plainly that there is a place for secrecy.
There is a place for secrecy in our charitable acts, our acts of righteousness. Jesus tells us not to trumpet our big name when we give. God is not interested in how many lists of donors your name appears on. “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.”
Similarly with prayer and fasting, Jesus tells us not to make a show of our religion. God is not interested in the length of our prayers or of our time in prayer. He is concerned with our attitude of prayer. “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen.” He wants genuine prayer. It is most unlikely that most of Jesus’ hearers had their own room and door to close. Jesus is referring as much to the room of our hearts as any physical room. He is reminding us that the secret prayer of our hearts is much more real than the prayers of our words. From the secrecy of our hearts, we can bring the secrets of our life before God honestly and sincerely, sadly and thankfully.
“Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Being a secret Christian is not as strange or as ineffective as it sounds!