Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. (John 19:38-39)
Relate: It was easily one of the most traumatic moments of my life. Looking back now it is easy to say the whole situation is just silly, but it sure did not feel silly at the time. It was mortifying. Here I was sitting on the back of the bus and a good friend of mine is quoting a poem I wrote. There was no way he should know anything about that poem, let alone be able to quote it. As hard as it might be to believe now, as a seventh grader I was quite shy. This is even more true when it came to girls and the problem grows exponentially when you are talking about a girl I am attracted to. My sister used to joke it was easy for her to figure out who I was attracted to because that would be the only person in the room I would not talk to or even make eye contact with.
The night before, I decided it was time to take a risk. I was going to go way, way out on a limb and let the girl I had been crushing on for years now exactly how I felt. Even back then I knew that although I might not be eloquent in a one to one conversation, I could write circles around anyone in that school. So I put pen to paper and wrote my heart out… literally. This beautiful young girl thought it was one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for her and in her excitement she showed it to a friend, and then another friend, and then another, and another, and another, and… The way my friend on the back of the bus described it, everyone in the entire cafeteria had an opportunity to read my love letter. The very thing I was scared to death to let even one single person know about had suddenly become common knowledge for everyone in the school. Somebody please, just shoot me now.
As horrifying as that moment was, as terribly as it turned out (her parents said she was too young to date so we had to just stay “friends”), the risk was worth it. There comes a point in our life when the secrets of our heart can no longer stay a secret. There were other times in my past when I did not have the courage to take that leap. Looking back now, I believe those times were far, far worse. When thinking back to that moment in seventh grade, there will never be a “I wonder if…” type of regret, but there are other potential relationships I never had because I was too much a coward. Being rejected will never be worse than being anonymous.
React: What was true with regard to relationships is far more true when it comes to our spiritual lives. When I look at the overall narrative of scripture, I am pretty confident that there will be a significant number of secret Christians populating hell. They believed. They knew the truth, but they did not have the courage to go out on a limb. They did not have a boldness to dare. They kept that secret all the way to the grave and suddenly they heard our Savior saying to them, “Who are you?”
When Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus, he was taking a huge risk. Far more than a shy boy has a reason to fear, this secret disciple’s silence was understandable. Understandable, yes, but it was not justified. There is no excuse ever for us to keep our Christianity a secret. If we do not have the courage to acknowledge Jesus now, He will not acknowledge us at the end of days. Are we fooling ourselves into believing that we really are Christians? Until what we believe is no longer a secret, the only proper way to describe our faith is “fake”.
Give me the courage to speak out. Give me the fortitude to remain bold no matter what the situation. I do not ever want to remain silent. I do not ever want what I believe deep down to remain a secret. No matter what the situation, help me to represent You well with love, dignity and valour.