I will begin with John chapter 3 verses 16-21. Today I have entitled my lesson Transparent Christianity.
Have you ever noticed that people’s personalities generally fit into either the “introvert” or the “extrovert” categories? I could look at each of you today and easily categorize you all into one of these groups.
Introvert literally means “open towards the inside” whereas extrovert means “open towards the outside”. An introvert is usually uncomfortable in big crowds and is more reserved. Generally extroverts thrive when company is around and is easily open to all. There is nothing wrong with being either of these types of people. We need both types of people to complete the world. God created us different to avoid monotony.
He has chosen to give us different personalities. Each personality type will have it’s strengths and weaknesses. An introvert will usually be a very sincere deep person while an extrovert will usually be a very funny friendly person. You know, what is true in this world can also be true in faith. Just like everyone can fit in introvert or extrovert in the physical sense, we can all fit into introvert of extrovert in a spiritual sense.
What I want you to see today is that we are all called to be extroverts in our faith. If someone wants a relationship with Christ he must possess 2 qualities that extrovert display naturally. First, we must be very open to probing looks from the outside and second, we must be public in our faith expression.
If a man fails to develop these qualities, he fails to make it to heaven. Let’s look a little closer.
First let’s look at the condemnation of those whose life won’t become transparent. Read verses 16-19.
Now some people see a paradox here. How can God love the world, and yet condemn those who don’t accept Him? Eternally condemn those who don’t respond to him? Let me give you an example. Suppose you want to introduce a man to music who has never experienced it before. You want to share the experience of music with him. You take him to a exceptional symphony performance, but after a few moments he becomes very bored and begins fidgeting around. How might you respond? By wanting to bring him a blessing, you would have brought him condemnation. That friend has shown that he has no music in his soul. You have brought out a truth about him that stands against his personality.
Once, a man was being shown an art gallery. He was shown paintings of the greatest artist who ever lived. He was being shown pieces of work beyond all monetary value, of eternal beauty; of unquestionable genius. As the man finished viewing the gallery he said, “Well I don’t think much of your old pictures!” To which the tour guide responds, “Sir, I would remind you these pictures are no longer on trial, but those who view them are!”
The man displayed his blindness through his reaction. This same principle can be applied to Jesus. When a man is confronted with the master, the incredible and loving master, and he responds negatively he stands condemned. He reveals something about himself which is dooming.
You can’t look into the eyes of my Jesus and remain unchanged if your soul is pure in intent! You must have pure intentions and your heart must be right! To respond to Christ you must first love righteousness.
Do you have righteousness today? Do you really? Sometimes it takes the full force of the sledge hammer of sin to cause us to love righteousness. It takes pain from our mistakes before we want what is right and different. Have you felt the burn of guilt from the life you’ve lived? If so, you are ready to love righteousness and meet Christ.
Alcibiades used to say to Socrates, “I hate you because every time I meet you, you let me see what I am!”. Have you ever been around people like that? Have you ever been around people like that? Have you ever hated being around someone because no matter how hard you try this person always performs better than you? It’s not pleasant is it? They make you see things in yourself you would prefer to forget.
The same holds true with Christ. If you don’t love righteousness it’s not pleasant to be around him. He reminds you constantly of your shortcomings.
This attitude is one of Transparency. It is the quality which extroverts exert that says, “I don’t mind anyone looking at me from the outside!”. I see this in verses 20-21 “…”
Plato wanted a house built. He spoke to many friends about it. Word got around and finally an architect came to him with an offer. He said, “I will build you a house in which no one can see from the outside for this amount of money.” Plato responds by saying, “I will pay you double if you build this house in a way that every room may be seen by one passing by!”. Plato felt as if he had nothing to hide. How would you like that?
Aside from matters of modesty why should we want to hide? Only evil searches to remain unseen. If you watch the right things on television, and your computer, if you act right towards your family, what do you have to hide? A man ready for Christ is a man who stands bare in his soul before Jesus.
This kind of man is transparent before both Christ and those around him who want to see his actions match his talk. Christ is also there watching to see if your walk matches your talk!
To be in Christ means to be open. Is this your attitude? Do you stand transparent before all?
One more thing displayed by those who will be saved. It is not only essential that he is transparent but also that he publicly proclaims his faith in Christ.
You know I have wondered many times as I have read this text. Did Christ talk about light because Nicodemus went to see him by night? Did he try to encourage him to come out in the light? Nicodemus was willing to inquire of Christ but unwilling to stand openly with him!
When Jesus said you need to be baptized was he not inviting him to do just that? To publicly confess him? When Jesus was saying, “when a man comes to God he is exposed to the light,” wasn’t he saying, “this man is shown to the world for what he is?” I think so. I think if you are showered in the light that you become one, and you draw attention to yourself. So the attitude of the one who finds salvation is by nature one of public proclamation.
You can’t be a Christian unless you publicly stand with Christ. How public is your faith?
Let me say that faith in Christ is not a matter of private life! It’s not a thing you can keep to yourself or hide in a closet at home! We are so pressured by the world around us to conform that we seem to forget that often! “Don’t stand out!” they say, “Don’t make waves! Stay lost in the crowd with your opinions bottled up!”. Faith belongs to the light. It is called to shine in the darkness.
So I must ask, is my attitude that of Christ? Do I publicly proclaim my faith, not only through baptism, but also through the rest of my life and actions? Do I show up early for work and try to have a devo with others around me? Do I ever stop and pray? Some can pause for a cigarette but not for prayer? Do I read my bible at lunch time? Do I thank Him for my food? Do I act differently in public than in private? You see we ought to express our faith in an outward manner. Too bad if our boss or our coworkers don’t like it. We serve God first. Look at Matthew 10:27-33.
As we end today let me say that Nicodemus will eventually learn the lesson. Take a look at John chapter 7:50-52. You’ll see Nicodemus begin standing for Jesus in the Sanhedrin.
Then look in John chapter 12:39-40. You’ll see him publicly ask for the body of Jesus and prepare his body for burial with Joseph of Arithmathea. As Jesus predicted Nicodemus’ secrets were brought into the light!
I ask today, will you do the same? Will you please start to confess him publicly? Will you allow him to shine his light upon you? Today I want to call you to that which Jesus called Nicodemus. Come into the light through baptism and public proclamation of Christ.