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Your Private Relationship: Jesus as Best Friend Forever  

(This is the first segment of the next chapter in the book, Hand in Hand: Deepening Your Relationship with Jesus Christ.  It will be published in the first part of 2017.)

All of us have a private side to our lives.  It is the repository of our sacred beliefs and core values.  We secure our true feelings, opinions, likes and dislikes, worries, fears and impressions within its confines.  Unspoken words, plastic smiles and insincere gestures hide our real thoughts from the world at large.  Sometimes we reveal this side of ourselves to others, but we often conceal it for fear that we might offend, insult or otherwise antagonize other people in our lives.  We curb many of our true expressions and feelings in order to live in peace with others.   

The restraints we put on our actual thoughts are often laughable.  If someone bakes a pie or cooks a dish for us that tastes terrible, we might tell them, “Wow!  That didn’t last long at our house!”  (Meaning: we took one bite and threw it in the garbage.)  If new parents show off their homely baby to us, we might say, “Aw, what a cute little nose!”  (Meaning: “That’s the only thing about that ugly kid that I can compliment!”)  This is the core of comedy.  Professional comedians make real versus polite thoughts their stock in trade.  The rest of us may not lie outright, but neither do we expose our true thoughts.  We equivocate, hem and haw, use euphemisms, change the subject and squirm when we find ourselves on the hot seat.  

What is not so humorous is that our private, secret thoughts have the power to shape our souls.  We either act in ways that confirm our private thoughts, a behavior we call authenticity, or we act contrary to our true beliefs, a trait known as cognitive dissonance.  Whichever path we take, our true selves eventually become apparent. For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7. This became the premise for David to write, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.”  Psalm 51:5-6. Inner truth translates into outward behavior.  But even more importantly, inner truth produces inner joy.  When you forge a private relationship with God—regardless of the price you have to pay for it—you are at peace with your soul. 

Let’s now drill down into these inward parts.  They will not simply appear unless you know what you’re looking for.  Your private relationship with God is built on five elements: confession, transparency, discipline, thought life and authenticity.  No one can maintain an honest relationship with God unless these practices prevail.   


The word from the Greek that is tranlated “confess” is homologeo.   Literally, it means “to say the same thing.” It may be further understood as “agree, admit or acknowledge.” A similar and somewhat more emphatic word is exomologeo, “promise, consent, admit, confess or acknowledge” and from this, “to praise.” (  The normal idea conveyed by confession is that the implicated person agrees with the allegation.  We usually think of confession as an admission of guilt to authorities.   

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s signature work, his nineteeth century classic “The Scarlet Letter,” reveals the destructive nature of unconfessed sin.  Chillingworth, the husband, and Dimmesdale, the guilty minister, both harbored wrongdoing in their hearts for years.  In the convoluted tale of troubled consciences, they both end up emotionally destitute because they discovered the freedom of confession too late to do them any good.  The final sentence of the book reads, “Among many morals which press upon us from the poor minister’s miserable experience, we put only this into a sentence:—’Be true! Be true! Be true! Show freely to the world, if not your worst, yet some trait whereby the worst may be inferred!’”   

Classical literature may advance the notion of confession, but it is the Scriptures that establish its practice.  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  James 5:16.  Also, 1 John 1:8-10 which states, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.  Most people have associated confession to a priest as the orthodox channel to absolve sins due to the  confessional, or confession booth which the Roman Catholic Church incorporated into its tenets of faith centuries ago.  Confession to God, however, goes deeper than exposing personal sins to an agent of a church or even to another person.  It speaks of an honest relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  It it practicing  “truth in the inward parts.” It is ‘‘Be true. Be true Be true!” 

Confession is far from automatic.  Legally, it only comes after a guilty person makes a decision to reveal his or her guilt.  Many guilty people, in fact, never confess.  Although their guilt may be proven in a court of law, and in spite of eyewitnesses who saw them commit the deed, they stubbornly deny it.  What motivates a refusal to confess?  It could be fear of reprisal or punishment, it could be embarrassment or shame, it could be the avoidance of property loss.  Whatever the reason, guilty persons who refuse to confess are conflicted within themselves.  Confession indicates that a guilty person has worked through any inner conflictedness and has come to terms with his or her guilt.  Punishment notwithstanding, confession shows a state of emotional and spiritual peace.  That makes confession a vital element in a relationship with God. 


Vows to be transparent and counter charges that it has not been forthcoming have dominated American politics in recent decades.  Secret deals, obfucation of political maneuverings and blatant hypocrisy have been decried by those in and out of power.  The widespread tendancy of closed-door proceedings has let to many states pass Sunshine laws that mandate transparency in government.  “Sunshine laws are regulations requiring openness in government or business. Sunshine laws make meetings, records, votes, deliberations and other official actions available for public observation, participation and/or inspection. Sunshine laws also require government meetings to be held with sufficient advance notice and at times and places that are convenient and accessible to the public, with exceptions for emergency meetings.”  www.   

Devious minds ruin interpersonal relationships.  One cannot have an opaque personality with his or her spouse, or with a business partner, and enjoy a close relationship.  A lack of transparency may point to deeper rifts between persons, like untrustworthiness, deception, disrespect or even fraud.  If this is true between humans, how much more with God?   

Failure to be transparent with God reveals either a gross misunderstanding or denial of God’s omniscience, or a willingness to engage in self-deception.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, through the character of Father Zosima, in “The Brothers Karamazov,” said “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”  Zosima’s thoughts, no doubt, were based on his knowledge of the Scriptures.  Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 1 Corinthians 3:18.  If you are transparent with God, it will become far easier to be transparent with others. 

Transparency underlies confession.  Confession addresses one’s actual transgressions, but transparency deals with motives, intentions and desires which cause the sins.  It is in these areas that a pure relationship with God finds its greatest traction.  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  Hebrews 4:12-13.

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