How much do we see when we look at ourselves? Are we transparent? Is God transparent?

Service,, , Kreuzkirche Leichlingen

automatically translated


Some of you know that I was a shop steward for four years in the company where I work.

We shop stewards, a team of four people, had regular meetings with the personnel manager, with the management and were available as contact persons for all colleagues.

Of course, we were often confronted with dissatisfaction, because the satisfied people rarely came and expressed their satisfaction. People prefer to complain rather than talk about what is good.

But that was all right, this time was also quite useful. We were able to place issues and push through some of them. There was one issue that we often heard about from dissatisfied colleagues. That was the issue of transparency. It was often not so much that people did not agree with decisions made by managers, but that they wanted to understand why.

And it is on this theme of "transparency" that I would like to reflect with you today.

In our company, formats have been created over time where decisions are regularly communicated and explained, and I think we are on the right track. And I'm not just saying that in case a manager from our company hears or reads this sermon ;-)

Some may think that the desire for transparency is unreasonable. The boss pays and determines, and the employees have to keep track.

This only works in sectors where there are more jobseekers than employees.

Most employees want to understand the meaning of their work, where it should go and want to think along. And that is only possible if the strategy and the goal of one's own work area are communicated and understood. Somehow the work has to be meaningful, because then it is more fun. And a lack of transparency in management decisions can kill the fun pretty quickly.

Especially committed people who want to make a difference then leave, which is usually not so good for the company.

Transparency in the Bible in general

I have not found the word "transparency" in any German Bible translation. It is often a problem that the language develops quickly and new words gain importance that are not yet included in Bible translations.

I had a conversation about this with ChatGPT. You may have heard about it in the media; it's an AI, an artificial intelligence that has been trained with a lot of data and you can talk to it via chat almost like a human being.

It's fascinating, sometimes creepy, but you can use it as a sparring partner for a subject, which in some cases can show you new points of view on that subject. I would not use it as a source of truth.

I once asked him for words that have a similar meaning to transparency and are found in the Bible.

The sentence came from the chat bot:

However, there are many Bible verses that deal with similar concepts such as sincerity, honesty, integrity, openness and responsibility, which are closely related to the idea of transparency.

It fits to some extent. I also asked him about political leadership and transparency, which is often mentioned in the media, and the related terms "accountability" and "responsibility" came up.

I would like to look at a few of these terms with you.


It is similar, but not the same. Let's look again at the example of the "company". One does not have the right to demand accountability from the decision-makers (owners, management).

But if it is possible, you demand a certain transparency. Because you want to know what the future holds for the company, whether you have an economic future there, whether topics are being dealt with that will help you professionally.

Otherwise, one will or should consider changing companies.

The Bible says very simply in Proverbs (Proverbs 8:4; NEÜ):

For the word of a king has power. Who could say to him, "What are you doing?"

No one will hold a king, or in modern terms, a dictator, an authoritarian ruler, accountable. You hope that maybe it will happen, but most of the time it does not. Even in democratic countries it sometimes happens that some people who deserve accountability somehow get away with it. When I think about how many high-ranking Nazis in the young Federal Republic quietly continued their political careers, there were quite a few.

When you see an authoritarian ruler driving a country to the wall, you can only emigrate.

But the word "accountability" is also used in the Bible in the context of accountability of the individual before God. And before God, all must give account of their actions, even dictators and kings.

This is described quite strikingly in Hebrews 4:13:

No creature is hidden from God; everything lies open and unprotected before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Nothing can be hidden from God, we are virtually fully transparent before Him.

Matthew 12:35-37; NEÜ even says that people must give an account of their words:

35 The good man brings forth good because he is filled with good. The evil man brings forth evil because he has evil in him. 36 I say to you: On the day of judgement people will have to give an account for every useless word they have said. 37 For on the basis of your own words you will be acquitted or condemned.

This could almost frighten one, but at least those who belong to Jesus Christ are already absolved by Him. Let us see such verses as an incentive and not as pressure.

The term "accountability" also exists in the context of giving an account of our hope to others.

This is not just about voluntary transparency, but others have a right to be given an account of our faith. At least this is how I understand 1 Peter 3:15; NEÜ:

Rather, let Christ the Lord be the centre of your life! And when you are asked about your hope, always be ready to give an account!

Everyone has to implement this personally in their own authentic way, that's clear. But I think that is our responsibility.

The term "openness" also fits here.

In 2 Corinthians 3:12; NEÜ it is also particularly emphasised:

Because we have such hope, we act with great openness.

I actually still have a long way to go, because I don't always appear with such great openness about my hope. But let us take such verses as a challenge and also question ourselves: Do we share our lives to some extent so that others can also see that we have hope and what we have hope for?

What other similar words do we have on transparency?

Sincerity, honesty, integrity

These three somehow belong together. One can hardly separate these terms. The word integrity comes from the Latin "integer", which means "intact", "unharmed", "whole", "complete" and the like.

People you associate with such attributes appear trustworthy.

The opposite, such as "dishonest", "disingenuous", somehow also implies a certain cover-up and thus also intransparency.

As if these three words "sincerity", "honesty", "integrity" consequently somehow fit transparency.

There is an interesting episode in 2 Kings 12 where a king named Joash wants to repair the temple. For this purpose, a priest set up a box at the entrance to the temple, where the money that was brought into the temple was deposited. When the box was full, a bag was filled and weighed under supervision. Then it was handed over to the responsible masters, who used it to pay the craftsmen and buy building materials such as wood and stones.

So far, so normal.

But then came 2 Kings 12:16; the following sentence:

They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.

Here, lack of transparency seems to be something positive. But there is a clear difference between accountability and transparency. Accountability includes control and often it has to be, because money can also be wasted through unintentional mistakes.

But these men were transparent, I suppose. They discussed with the priests what had to be repaired and how, what it would look like afterwards and what the goal of individual works was.

The ideal is to act in such a way that accountability is not a problem. This is how it is described in 1 Peter 2:12:

2 Your life must be faultless, especially among people who do not know God. If they slander you as evil, let them see your good deeds so that they may 'come to understand and' praise God once He intervenes in their lives.

"Impeccable" is of course a hard standard. Other translations say "righteous life", "exemplary", "good change", which does not sound easier either. It is neither about perfectionism nor about pretending to be a perfect world. One should rather be transparent and admit one's failures once in a while. The other day I was flashed at a red light because I was late and not concentrating. That was stupid, I shouldn't have tried to get through the intersection.

A flawless life should be our goal, but not a goal that can be achieved in a few weeks, but rather a signpost, an overall direction in life. And "flawless" does not mean doing everything right, but becoming more like Jesus Christ.

Transparency in relationships

"Transparency" is also an issue for relationships.

I read from Ephesians 4:23-25; NGÜ:

23 And you have been taught to be renewed in your mind and spirit 24 and to put on the new man, made in God's image, whose characteristics are righteousness and holiness based on the truth. 25 Therefore, put away all falsehood and hold to the truth when you speak to one another. We are members of one and the same body!

In other translations, instead of "put away all falsehood", it says more blatantly: "put away the lie", or "stop lying". Many years ago, when we still had boxes in the hallway for each member of the congregation, someone once put a card with this Bible verse in the translation "Put away falsehood..." in each box and some people were really pissed off because they saw themselves being called liars. Some may still remember this incident.

One must not see this verse too flatly. The aim of this instruction is, after all, solidarity with one another.

And that brings us to the topic of "transparency". Do we show each other how we are doing and what is on our minds?

Of course, you don't have to make yourself naked in front of everyone, but we should be able to hear from each other what is going on, what crises someone is going through, what worries, what tasks and so we can pray for each other and stand by each other.

It really annoys me when Christians are portrayed in films as the total cover-ups of their problems. All problems are smiled away. There are certainly Christians like that, but I haven't met many yet.

If we really want to get rid of falseness, then we have to become authentic and also a little bit transparent in front of each other, share our lives with each other.

And an important point here is: nothing is scarier if you think that you are the only person who has problems because everyone else seems to be doing well.

One question remains:

How transparent is God?

That is not the only question that remains, but it is an interesting one.

There are several passages handed down where, for example, Jesus spoke openly to his disciples and announced his suffering, crucifixion and resurrection. Peter's response to this was quite negative (Mark 8:32; NGÜ):

He (Jesus) spoke clearly and openly about it. Then Peter took him aside and tried with all his might to dissuade him.

Sometimes we can't handle transparency and we don't want to hear the truth.

And sometimes we cannot understand it at all. Jesus talks about celibacy in Matthew 19:1-12 and the sentence (Matthew 19:11, NL) comes up:

"Not everyone can understand this," Jesus said. "Only those whom God helps can."

I believe this statement does not only apply to the topic of "celibacy". We often imagine that we know so much, but for so much we need God's help to understand.

An interesting passage on this is John 15:12-17; NL

12 I command you to love one another as I love you. 13 The greatest love is shown by the one who lays down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a master does not take his servants into confidence. You are now my friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, I chose you. I have called you to go and bear fruit that will last, so that the Father may give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I give you the commandment to love one another.

Most here have surely read this text before and this call to love one another as Jesus loved us is certainly a lifelong challenge and learning. But this is a statement that every Christian will agree with.

I find the statement in verse 14 a bit awkward:

You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do.

If a person told me that, I would probably respond by saying, "Then I don't want to be your friend."

I wouldn't dare do that with Jesus ;-) And if you look at the verse in context, it is about the instruction to love one another and you can only be Jesus' friend if you love those whom he also loves. And then this statement makes sense again.

And then there is the great verse 15 where Jesus calls us friends on the grounds that servants (or minions, slaves) are not taken into confidence but we are. So not only Abraham is a friend of God, but everyone who belongs to Jesus Christ. Jesus told us everything he heard from his Father. And this transparency is a sign of friendship. He doesn't have to give us any account, on the contrary, as we heard earlier, but he draws us into trust. I think this is also a story where we have to learn throughout our lives to understand what God has entrusted to us through Jesus in the Bible.


I summarise.