by Bob Ekblad. Originally published at his blog, reposted with permission.
Followers of Jesus have a spiritual obligation to bring into the light offenses or injustices otherwise hidden from sight. While discernment is certainly needed in knowing how and when to speak, prohibiting leaks is like silencing the prophets, who in Scripture carried out a function in Israel similar yet far beyond that of WikiLeaks or the best investigative journalism.
Jesus himself taught: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled,” affirming all who long for truth and justice. This hunger and thirst will lead us to walk in the light ourselves through personal confession and repentance, and also to expose injustices that affect the vulnerable.
Think of confession of sin as the exposure of our own hidden secret attitudes and actions that the Holy Spirit brings up. The Spirit sounds our hearts, “leaking” our sins into our conscious awareness, bringing conviction and inviting confession, renunciation and new, life-giving choices.
The writers of Scripture exposed or “leaked” classified, seemingly uncensored information about Israel’s patriarchs and matriarchs, political and religious leaders and the people as a whole. Incest, adultery, deception, murder, massacres, corruption, idolatry, power-grabbing schemes, rape, treason and every imaginable injustice and sin was brought into the light vocally and in written form for all the world– past, present and future to see.
The prophet’s role in Scripture included exposing injustices and confronting perpetrators. The prophet Nathan brought a message from God to King David, exposing his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah. Isaiah, Jeremiah and every other prophet exposed both known and hidden sins and injustices of kings, and announced God’s judgment as consequences.
Leaking has always been a high value for prophets, who bring the final judgment into the present, demanding that things change now in alignment with heaven. Keeping evils hidden in the interests of national security brings no security at all, from a divine perspective. The prophet brings the high demands for truth in the innermost places as a precondition for real security—which is eternal.
There are justifiable reasons for keeping some information confidential. But oppressive policies, lies, actions bringing harm and other injustices should and will come into the light, as Jesus says:
“There is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Lk 12:2-3).
Prophetic exposure of injustice continues in the New Testament. John the Baptist was a prophet and a leaker. He exposed and denounced Herod’s affair with his brother’s wife—which cost him his head. Jesus too knew people’s thoughts and often revealed them, and exposed in graphic detail the hypocrisy of Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, priests and the High Priest and secular leaders. These leaders were exposed as opposing and calling for the crucifixion of God’s promised Messiah Jesus, the Son of God himself. Jesus described people’s rejection of himself, the Light of the World, as the ultimate exposure of evil:
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:9)
One sure sign of Scripture’s inspiration is the radical honesty and vulnerability of Biblical writers to tell what looks like a lot of embarrassing truth—which most certainly exposed the Jewish people to anti-Semitic assaults (too often even from Christians!) throughout history.
The Bible’s WikiLeak-like exposé of the sins of God’s people must be read as an invitation to transparency for us today. We mustn’t scapegoat Jews, Christians or anyone, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Let us allow Scripture’s public prophetic judgment to expose our personal, racial and national sin.
The good news is that evil actions do not disqualify perpetrators from God’s call and longsuffering pursuit. Jesus was and still is a friend of sinners, and God’s forgiveness and mercy for the undeserving is available and is far superior to human justice.
So there’s no reason to hide, and followers of Jesus must be the first to acknowledge and renounce personal, collective and national sin. We must be like transparent participants in a twelve-step group, presenting ourselves in humility with full disclosure. “Confess your sins one to another” (James 5:16).
“If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine,” taught Jesus. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jn 8:31-32).
The Apostle Paul writes: “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” This is certainly what Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many other watch groups do and must continue to do. Other famous leakers like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and even former FBI director James Comey have exposed dark deeds of corporations, officials and governments to the news media through WikiLeaks, calling for public accountability and the redress of wrongs.
So we must welcome quality journalistic reporting that exposes today’s evils—like recent journalistic exposés showing how US and UK weapons manufacturers make cluster bombs used to kill children in Yemen, and how the US military refuels Saudi Arabian planes used to drop these bombs. Holding perpetrators of injustices accountable can lead to life-saving policy changes.
Because we know that Jesus died on the cross to save sinners, we can confidently approach the judgment seat, knowing that “if we confess our sins, he [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9).
Rather than participate in cover-ups, remaining silent, denying difficult truths as “fake news” or calling on authorities to punish today’s leakers, let us re-examine our own prophetic heritage in Scripture and hunger and thirst for righteousness. Rather than seeking personal and national security, may we be willing to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Jesus promises that those that so act will be filled and theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Bob Ekblad is co-founder and co-director of Tierra Nueva in Burlington, Washington. Bob is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He holds a ThD in Old Testament and is known internationally for his courses and workshops on reading the Bible.