Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Out of the Closet

Looks like all that talk about communism and nature was just a front. Mikhail Gorbachev has come out of the closet by confirming his Christianity. Read about it here. At least that's what he says. And to back it up, the former Soviet leader spent a half-hour in prayer at Assisi.

I'll take this at face value for the time being because I have no real reason not to. But what was it like for Gorby to deny Christ repeatedly for years? I write this in the midst of Holy Week, remembering Peter's threefold denial and subsequent glance at the Master he claimed to have never met.

I understand lying. Sad to say, I've lied myself on too many occasions. Those moments have been dominated by my own selfishness and fear of getting caught doing something wrong. I cannot, however, think of a time when I lied because I did something right. But I'm sure it may have happened.

The idea of a closet believer is so foreign to what I am used to. We are told that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night for a sermon because he was a secret believer. Pilate's wife was said to be a Christian. But my experience is with the closet heathen. You know the type: Talks about his love for the Bible, yet needs the table of contents to find any book except Psalms; Brags about her church, but doesn't seem to know many of the people beyond the occasional last name. You get the picture.

While I find it refreshing that Gorby has come out of the closet, I wonder how he was able to live with himself after all those denials. Peter got a face-to-face "Feed my lambs" experience with Jesus. Gorby got some prayer time at St. Francis' old stomping grounds.

At the same time, I wonder about the closet heathen. Would it be better for the rest of us if they would simply stop the charade? Or do we simply hope and pray (and pray, and pray) that somewhere along the line they listen to what they profess to believe?

If it's simply a matter of heart, we all have to fight off temptation and selfish desires. I just wonder if the closet heathen has fooled himself.


Big Doofus said...

Me again. I hope you don't think I'm stalking you. Besides, I'm still trying to find your address.

But seriously, I wanted to share a couple more things if that's ok.

On Denial
An old friend of mine from up your way (NE Indiana) has totally denied Christ. He and I were friends from way back when. I would vouch for him as to the sincerity of his faith. But now he lives in Austin and lives a live of leisure. I recently told him that he should publicly claim his disbelief and he wrote me back doing just that. It's almost like he died.

Java Jesus
I just noticed that you have that site linked from yours. I'm a contributor to that site--though not so much in the last few months.

e. barrett said...

I am always inspired (and impressed) by the boldness of Christians living in places where death and punishment can follow for their beliefs. And I have to be honest, if I lived in those places I think I'd probably be a closet Christian.

Just one more reason I'm grateful for God's grace and mercy.