The Exhausting Fear of Being Found Out

“Is today going to be the day?”

At some level, I believe most of live with this question. It’s the question of being found out.

By “found out”, I don’t mean that some secret sin we’ve been treasuring will be brought into the open. I mean it in the sense that most of us are walking through life in various degrees and in various situations in which we feel radically unequipped and unbelievably unqualified. With that in mind, the question might start to sound like this:

“Is today going to be the day my boss finds out I actually don’t know how to run this project?”

“Is today going to be the day my kids find out that I don’t really know how to parent teenagers?”

“Is today going to be the day that my friends discover I’m not actually as clever as they might think?”

It’s paralyzing, this fear of being found out. Of being discovered to be somehow “less” than the perception that others have of you. It’s the feeling of wondering whether or not the next action, the next tweet, the next post, the next statement, is going to be funny enough, smart enough, penetrating enough, clever enough to buy us just a little more time. And if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves devoting endless energy to making that carefully crafted persona continues to withstand any scrutiny that comes its way. We can drift into lies, disingenuous actions, and running in fear, all because of what might happen if we are actually found out.

This, too, is where the gospel rams headlong into our fear. And once again, we find that the perfect love of God, demonstrated at the cross, is in the business of driving that fear out. But the gospel, in driving out fear, does not do us the disservice of inflating our egos. The gospel does not lie to us and tell us that we are indeed as clever or as qualified or as wise or as engaging as we might appear. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

The gospel reminds us that not only are we not everything people think we are, we are actually much, much worse. There is more darkness, more bitterness, more hatred, more jealousy, and more laziness lurking within our souls than we would even admit to us. And yet Jesus has died and risen again to forgive and redeem that very darkness. The gospel, then, drives out our fear of being found out not by telling us we’re not that bad, but instead by reminding us that with God there is truly nothing left to find out. He has mined every corner and explored every crevice of our hearts. He knows it all, and yet Jesus willingly gave Himself for our sake.

The sweet freedom of the exhausting fear of being found out happens when we encounter the message that God fully knows us, even more than we know ourselves, and died for us anyway.

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