We all have those days when we are challenged to step out of our comfort zone and the reasons vary by person and circumstance. When it comes to our christian walk, our growing in the faith, there is one thing we tend to avoid. As a church our Wednesday evening can be a time of traditional worship, or our pastor might share a book or topic that relates to our growth in the faith, then we as a community discuss and share various insights. As it is with many things in life, every now and then we come to a rock in the road. A rock, not a choice of direction. You see this rock keeps us from continuing our journey to the point of making a choice of direction. It blocks the road and nobody wants to move it. The room suddenly joins in an unplanned exercise of avoidance, an unspoken desire to find a way around this. As I write this today I am reminded of a famous comic of ill repute, W. C. Fields, who once said when challenged as to why he was reading the bible,“looking for loop holes”. I am reminded as I have often said, there is little wiggle room in scripture.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has written a book, “Life Together” and in the chapter on confession and communion he issues not a challenge but a reminder about a vital component of our personal spirituality. In an excellent article by Ryan Griffith are these thoughts I share with you. I acknowledge Mr. Bonhoeffer put this rock in my road and now Mr. Griffith is the voice in a very quite room. Let’s get right to the rock, everyone ready…..lift.
Confessing in Community
We by nature tend to cling to our privacy when it comes to things that might affect what people will think about us, that natural sense of pride that rejects anything that marginalizes our stature among the community takes over.We all have no problem with confessing our sins to God, or even to a group, wait, let me back up here. We have no problem in a group as long as we phrase it properly. “I am struggling with”…..a vague non-descriptive request that relives the burden of accountably to others in the community. I have never considered confession of sin to be a community thing. Back in the day the early Methodist Societies required those attending the meeting to present a written list of their sins for the week for all to pray over. Well that was then and things do change. Yes they do but I have always considered the intent of scripture to remain constant. James 5:16…. “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” Along comes James. Did you know that confession to God and to one another is required and godly people who pray in faith are a just or righteous people. Still I shy away from the idea that my many sins are, or should be public domain. Yes it does bother me as I have always been a private person. I have always been a “between me and God” type of person.
I suppose a good place to start would be to understand what is confession? Ryan Griffith points out that confession is not optional for the Christian. 1 John recognizes we are prone to sin…..1 John 1: 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. In verse 9 is the result of our responsibility to confess our sins… 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I believe this to be true and find no discomfort in confession of my sins but my pride refuses to allow me to humble myself before my brothers and sisters. I have read James many times, it is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Where is it suggested that this thing of community confession is needed or that it is part of my healing and forgiveness in my faith walk? Let’s look at that James thing again.
James 5:16…. “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” I have read and researched many different scriptural references about this subject of “community confession” and in an attempt to keep it simple I have decided to just go back into the pew and offer my understanding from a Layman in the
So simple it will be. I can confess my sins in all totality to God but unless I share with others my struggles in all their damning excesses, how will that glorify my God or my Savior Jesus Christ? How can the magnitude of that glory and grace and what it has done for me ever be known? I will close this week being as honest as I know how. It is right and the thing to do….Confess your sins to God and too your fellow man, so that the Son who died on the cross for all our sins will be glorified in heaven and on earth. I still am having trouble with this “community” thing but through the word and God’s grace, conviction can’t be to far away.
Come back next week. Life is good.