From This American Life: When Freedom Means Getting Caught

This comes from Jonathan Adams, co-pastor at Village Church Vinings in Atlanta, GA. A few […]

Jonathan Adams / 1.2.13

This comes from Jonathan Adams, co-pastor at Village Church Vinings in Atlanta, GA.

A few Saturdays back I was taking my weekend run and listening to my favorite radio show This American Life.   This time it was Episode 477: “Getting Away With It.” Famous host Ira Glass had just finished the Prologue and already my wheels were spinning on how many times I’ve gotten away with it, or at least thought I did.

TAGmodref-335x500Act 1 is enjoyable, but then Ira does something unusual. In Act 2 he opens the phone lines for people to call in and tell their deepest, darkest secrets that they “got away with”. You can listen to the piece here. Everything you can imagine is mentioned.

It was fascinating listening to people call in with secrets that have haunted them for years.  As humans, we carry luggage around like it is our job.  We load ourselves down with guilt and shame waiting and hoping that someone takes our load away. And this is what happened–the show became a baggage drop.  As I listened to people dropping their burdens I was reminded of the song by the All-American Rejects, “Dirty Little Secret.”

It is a song about this very thing, an experiment to see how many people would offload their baggage if given the opportunity to tell their “Dirty Little Secret” in a non-judgmental, non-condemning way.  To the surprise of many, thousands begin pouring their guts out. As they found relief, they found that, in the words of Derek Webb, “The best thing that could happen to you is to have your worst sin broadcasted on the evening news.” Then and only then can we be set free.

Sin has done its lasting work on the human heart and it has produced this idea that we need to hide behind the guilt of our past. Sin tells the human heart, “You are what you do and think, and there is no escape.”

But this is not the message of the Gospel! Jesus says “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). In fact, the Gospel says that even though we are dirty and filthy, Jesus has come to take our baggage away.  He has come to impute His righteousness on us.  We are no longer what we do; we are what He has done.

The old Adam that is alive and kicking is filled with “dirty little secrets” that are so deep that we can’t even see them any more.  Sin is much worse than we think. And that is what makes the Gospel such good news.  Jesus has dealt with every single “Dirty Little Secret” on the cross.

Paul says that God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). As a result, repentance has become a jail brake. That secret that we cannot forget, He cannot remember.  We can talk about it now, we can shine a big spotlight on it and be set free, we can escape its condemning power by exposing it and repenting of it.  The good news of the Gospel declares us innocent and righteous. No more adjusting the fig leaves; the lamb has been slain and the currency of blood has paid our pardon. We are no longer addressed by the secrets, but re-dressed in His loving sacrifice. In Christ, God calls us friend. In God we have our ultimate baggage drop.


For info about Mbird’s publication This American Gospel: Public Radio Parables and the Grace of God, go here.