lord-of-the-rings-frodo-ring-actor-elijah-wood-hobbit-hd-57028For such a sought after piece of jewelry, the Ring of Power doesn’t seem to be very powerful.  What power does the ring bestow to its wearer but invisibility?  Could a person so empowered aspire to hold sway over personal and even global outcomes?  Indeed they can and they do.

Unlike The Invisible Man, Frodo can be visible or invisible when circumstances warrant.  His circumstantial invisibility allows him to absorb the benefits of interpersonal interactions while dodging the dangers of conflict.  In our world, circumstantial invisibility, also known as hypocrisy, affords the same double benefit.  From the husband hiding a porn addiction from his wife, to the church leader hiding an elicit affair from a congregation to a politician hiding graft from his constituency hypocrites wield power over those they keep in the dark through their deceit.

While wearing the ring, Frodo wasn’t entirely invisible.  In fact he was quite visible to the ring’s creator.  The ring alienated him from his companions and left him alone in the company of his ultimate enemy where his soul was ravaged by the evil voice calling to him.  Jesus said that Satan is the Father of lies.  When a person hides in the shadow of a lie he or she has run to Satan for refuge.  Like an abusive boyfriend, Satan whispers lies of condemnation and shame so they will remain with him.

Jesus has come to set the captives free by offering through his shed blood the assurance of unconditional pardon and acceptance to any hypocrite who will come forth to confess their crimes in the light of his presence.  Praise God for all who have accepted this gift of grace!

But those who have accepted amnesty are not impervious to being drawn back into the shadows.  In fact, a profession of faith in Christ often gets misinterpreted into an obligation to maintain moral appearances.  When a believer fails, as they tend to do, they often face even greater temptation to resort to the shadows.  In the dark, their secret sin grows along with their shame and alienation.  More often than not they only find freedom through getting caught.

1 John 1:5-10 provides believers instructions on how to grow in their freedom:

 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (NIV)

We don’t need to make a long and dangerous trek to be free of the ring; we simply must bring ourselves as we are from the shadows into the light where God lives.  According to verse 8 this means we must confess our sins.  We need to confess not just to God in secret but to other believers.  In this way we can have fellowship with one another.  John describes this confession of sin in redeemed community as “walking in the light” and walking is a process.  Through regularly confessing our sins we make progress toward the goal of Christ-likeness.  Note that he says, “…and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”  God sent Jesus to redeem the person he created; not the one I’m projecting.

Growth Groups are a great tool to help believers walk in the light.  Each week, 2-3 people of the same gender meet to ask and answer accountability questions designed to promote transparent relationships.  The Growth Groups Questionnaire, Read Me, and a demonstration video can be found under the Growth Groups tab in the Life Teams app.  Check it out today.

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