These are my confessions: I can be pretty self-righteous at times. I am prone to periodic bouts of laziness. Often I speak before carefully weighing the impact of my words. In years past I had an explosive temper and sour attitude. During college I struggled through a disastrous relationship born of hormones and naivety, which propelled me into depression and a long battle with lustful addictions. I used to be horrible to my dad.
I remember once as a kid when a lady in my faith family got up in front of the congregation and began to confess all kinds of sin to the entire audience. I found it strange even then, but she, in her newness of faith, did not. Just as she had publicly declared her resolve to follow Christ, she also publicly declared her shortcomings. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who found the entire thing to be strange that day, but she definitely had the right of it.
We’re supposed to confess our sins to one another.
I’m not very Catholically, but I really think they have us Protestant folks beat hands down when it comes to the discipline of confession. However I do find the act of entering a little booth and whispering all your failures through a little screen to a psuedo-anonoymous person to be kind of missing the point. Us trendy evangelicals and are our token “accountability partners” aren’t really any better though.
I believe that there is incredible power in the act of confession. Especially public confession. But we’ve been duped and deceived into thinking otherwise. Granted, there have been some pretty high profile ministers that have been all but ostracized from the faith for their sins, but mostly because they waited so long to come clean that their adherents felt betrayed at the revealing nature of their reviled activity. Early confession may have spared the congregation great pain, and gifted the offending pastor with an incredible support group for dealing with their issues.
Simply put, none of us are perfect. In my life I have overcome some of the stuff that we in the religious world would classify as deep sin so that now I have to wrestle periodically with the sin of thinking that I have no sin. All of us are steeped in sin. All of us are, quite frankly, jacked up. Either we’re like the younger son from Luke 15, all free-spirited and lost in our sin, or we’re like the religious older brother, lost in our false self perceptions.
I have seen confession, transparency, and gut level hard hitting honesty break down some tumultuous spiritual barriers in people’s lives. What would happen if the next time you walked in to your worship center, instead of asking the rhetorical, ” how are ya Joe?” you simply asked, “how have you sinned lately?” I know, just the thought of it seems deeply uncomfortable…but that is exactly the problem isn’t it. We have all grown way too comfortable with our sin.