Mark Reidy: Hello…is this thing on?

06 Aug 2008

By The Record

How differently would you behave if you knew that every word you said and every thing you did would be scrutinised in the public forum?

I’m fairly confident that there would be moments for most of us, such as an unkind word or a lustful glance, that we would be relieved to know, weren’t privy to anyone but ourselves.
 What triggered this introspection was the recent “microphone gaffe” made by US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson in regard to Presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Not realising that he was still on air during a live TV campaign appearance, Jackson muttered that he would like to remove certain parts of Obama’s anatomy. Of course, the media stampede that followed ensured that his words echoed across the globe.
It left me wondering what I would do differently if I had a microphone and camera taping my every word and action. Would it alter the way I spoke about others when they weren’t present? Would I be more vigilant of the way I behaved in private?
I won’t provide you with a public confession here, but these are questions that I believe we should all ask ourselves.
Because if our public persona differs in any way to our unseen lives and our behaviour is moulded and guided only by what others think of us, then we are, to some degree, living a lie.
When commenting on Jesse Jackson’s mishap, US historian Michael Beschloss made an interesting observation. In the world of political campaigning, he said, “…nothing seems to happen except by design, then suddenly there’s a mistake, and we seem to be able to see into these people’s souls”. 
He was, of course, speaking metaphorically, but his words should serve to remind us, as Christians, that while the world can only know us by what we say and do, our Father in Heaven has direct access to every thought and emotion that is captured by the “microphone” in our minds and hearts.
It is a daunting concept and one that I am often not conscious of, but it is, whether I acknowledge it or not, a spiritual reality. Jesus made it very clear that it is impossible to hide anything. “If a man looks at a woman lustfully”, He tells us, “He has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). And even more blatantly, he spoke of God as a “… Father who sees all that is done in secret…(Matt 6:4).
However, while it is important to be mindful of the omniscient nature of God, it is essential that we do not misconstrue the relationship that He desires to have with us. He is not a distant, domineering policeman who seeks to control us through guilt and the fear of punishment, as was sometimes depicted in the not too distant past.
His vigilant watch over each one of us must be seen in the light of a loving father who is so concerned for his child that he wants only what is best. One who understands perfectly that we will stumble and fall and make wrong choices during our earthly journey, but, if we choose to allow Him, His loving arms will always be there to guide us back to the path that leads home.
When we truly understand the context of this relationship, we will not live with the fear that we are being constantly monitored, but rather we will find peace in the knowledge that God loves us so much that He will never allow our microphones to be switched off.