For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. Mark 4:22
Henri Nouwen once wrote of what Jesus says here Mark 4, “These words encourage me to live my ‘hidden and secret life’ well.” What Nouwen so wisely grasped was that all of us have a hidden and secret part of our daily lives. He was not implying that this was a good or a bad thing, but rather that it is just a fact.
No one knows the thoughts and desires, the motives and dreams of our hearts and minds. Or at least, no one knows all of them. They know what we share, what we “put out there” for them to know. But no one knows it all. There are parts of our lives that are hidden and undisclosed. Sometimes for no other reason than we simply don’t have the time or energy to lay bare every thought, and probably don’t even understand every motivation going on within us.
Having things within us that everyone doesn’t know is not the real issue. For Nouwen it was an accepted fact. The question is: will we live those parts of ourselves well? Will we be found as those who live genuinely for Christ in the deep and hidden parts of our person?
Jesus is saying that the hidden parts of who we are, the secret places that are too deep or too emotionally sensitive to always have out for all to see are meant to one day be brought out, to be seen. Consider your own life—what will be seen?
I don’t mean the gritty details. And I don’t just mean mistakes. You aren’t perfect; neither am I. There will be mistakes and mis-aligned motivations and all kinds of things that will underscore the vastness of God’s grace. Jesus isn’t talking about a compare and contrast activity where he will line us up and rank us.
I really think he is talking about a new level of freedom and honesty in relationships that we can’t even fully get our minds around. To be fully known, to be completely understood, to be in immediate connection with others. This is the kind of thing that Jesus’ words lead to.
It is about freedom far more than it is about judgment. It’s actually a statement about less judging and more true understanding of others. Paul continues this concept:
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5
Paul is encouraging the people not to jump to judgments—which relates to the motives of another person, not their outward actions. He points out that the day will come when Jesus will bring it all to light and we will understand, not just the right and the wrong of what others did, but the whys of what they did (and of what we have done). He will expose the motives of the heart.
The more I read and consider this the more I am seeing that this exposure is not about revealing our sin or wickedness. That certainly will be revealed, but that’s not the point here. God already knows all of that. This is about re-connecting us with each other and with him in perfect relationship. It’s about bringing to light what needs to be understood for deeper more intimate relationships.
It’s funny, I think we tend to see these types of verses in the Bible as very negative. Exposing us doesn’t sound good. Which may be an indication of how much secrecy and pretending we live in. But again, it’s really a declaration of freedom to come. There will be no more secrets, and there will be no more misunderstanding between people. You’ll know me for who I really am, not the image I intentionally or unwittingly portray. And I’ll understand you like never has been possible before. No more judging, no more jumping to conclusions, no projecting my baggage onto your behavior. No more motives of my own heart that I don’t understand. It’s all in the light. There is no greater freedom!
And for Henri Nouwen, he saw this future state of our lives and relationships not as a time to dread, but as motivation for living well today. Living well even in the places others don’t see and can’t understand.