J. Edgar: The Power of Secrets

Posted: November 10, 2011 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama, True Story
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I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for bio-pics. It rarely even matters if I’ve heard of the historical figure before–I’m still intrigued to learn more about famous (and even infamous) people. Well, J. Edgar Hoover is actually someone I’m quite familiar with, and I can’t wait to have a Hollywood style look into his life. Add to that the typically fine acting ability of Leonardo DiCaprio and the direction of Clint Eastwood and it’s a must-see for me.

Before we consider J. Edgar over the next two days, go ahead and watch the trailer…

J. Edgar Hoover was arguably one of the most powerful men in the world for nearly forty years of American history. He gained and kept that power by using his army of FBI agents to procure people’s secrets, for the sake of “national security.” Hoover was also well-known for discovering the secrets of his political foes as well as the enemies of all Americans. He was not afraid to use these secrets to exert his authority over other, very powerful people.

The fascinating irony of Hoover’s life is that he was also an intensely secretive man himself. But this really makes sense, doesn’t it? If you spend every waking hour of your life gathering other people’s secrets to use against them, that would have to make you extremely fearful of others finding out YOUR secrets! To this day, rumors abound concerning what sort of man J. Edgar Hoover really was (even including his sexual preferences). This man who was all about the power of other people’s secrets worked vigorously to defend his own.

God’s Word teaches us that human beings have always sought to keep their own secrets. Upon eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve immediately hid from God. They wanted to keep their great sin a secret from the LORD God! It would be humorous if we weren’t all just like our first parents. We too attempt to keep our secrets from an all-knowing, all-seeing God. Having our secret sins uncovered just brings about a deep humiliation that we try to avoid, sometimes at all costs.

Of course, Christians realize that God really knows all of our secrets. Living out this amazing truth should lead us to constant confession of sin, as well as ongoing grace-driven striving to become more like Christ. We have the daily opportunity to live in the light of God’s wondrous grace.

The compounding problem often comes when we work overtime to keep our secret sins from other people. Understandably, we’re often fearful of what others may do with the power of our secrets. Yet this is the way of the world. As members of the body of Christ, God’s Word instructs us to “…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so you may be healed” (James 5:16). People do have a certain amount of destructive power over us when they know our secrets. But there is even MORE power in a secret that is confessed to the LORD and other people–and then healed!

Yes, it would be ideal to have no secrets to hide. Christians are called to “walk in the light, as He is in the light” (I John 1:7). Keeping out of the shadowy world of secets allows us to walk openly and honestly before our Maker and one another. Yet if and when we do have a life-dominating secret, whether it be in our own lives or within our family, it is incumbent on us to seek to confess those sins to other Christians who will pray for us and counsel us Biblically. Much too often, secrets in the lives of Christians spread like a virus in the church, complete with rumors, gossip, and broken relationships. It truly takes much more wasteful effort to live a life of constant image-keeping and secret-hiding than living honest and genuine lives.

So as you watch J. Edgar, let this bio-pic challenge you to think about the power of secrets in your own life. Come back tomorrow for another “powerful” take on this movie…


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