March 6, 2014| 0

Integrity, Plain as Day (Mark 4:21-23)

21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Corruption grows by hiding in shadows. Faith grows by stepping into the light.

Scandals occur when people use personal power to conceal their deeds. Lance Armstrong hid his doping scheme for years. Steven Cohen of SAC has concealed his sources of insider information for years. Eventually, however, every deed comes to light. That’s why the “newspaper test” is a good test for ethical decision-making: would you like your deeds to be published on the front page of the paper?

This simple test could have saved many scandals from starting down the slippery slope of secrecy. Openness protects against corruption and the corrupting influences wrought by the temptation to manipulate personal power for illicit gain.

In God’s timing, every deed, both the honest and the corrupt, will eventually be exposed to the light of day. It’s just a matter of time.

There’s a tight link here between faith and obedience. The key to understanding this lesson (and also the “parable of the soils” [Mark 4:1-20] which immediately precedes it) is the double-meaning of the verb “to hear.” In biblical language, it also means “to obey.” To hear is to obey. This theme runs throughout the Bible, from the opening line of Ten Commandments, “Hear, O Israel!” [Deut. 5:1], to Jesus’ explanation here of all his parables. Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship, sums it up neatly: “only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.”

This explains why faith is revealed in actions, that is, in the fruit it produces. Faith is not a secret to be kept hidden; rather, it is a living witness. Faith is an open display of obedience to the living Word. Like a lamp on a lampstand, so should our deeds reveal their source in Him. Faith should be revealed by our attitude, our walk, and our genuine concern for the people around us. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

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© Bruce D. Baker, 2014

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