Confessions

8.1.2014a

 

I have a confession … I don’t like confession. Confession delivers up some humility that doesn’t come from a happy place. It reveals to another the ways that we have failed to be the person that we want to be … or that they thought we were. Confession removes the celluloid fantasy of the great life we’ve been projecting and takes a look on the cutting room floor to see what didn’t make the cut. Confession gives the other person some power … secret knowledge that could potentially be used against you.

Confession to God is difficult, but the one thing of which we are aware is that He already knows.

“To confess your sins to God is not to tell God anything God doesn’t already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the Golden Gate Bridge.”  ― Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

To confess to another human being, however, is a different experience.  Various Christian groups have attempted to obey James’ appeal that we be people of confession. Some allow you to sit in a box with some perceived anonymity and confess to a priest no the other side of the screen. Absolution can be received through any number of tasks. Others have confession but absolution comes from God, not necessarily through the priest.

Sacrifice, discipline and prayer are essential. We gain strength through God’s word. We receive grace from the sacrament. And when we fumble due to sin – and it’s gonna happen – confession puts us back on the field. ~ Lou Holtz

In the churches of Christ we have relied on the revivalist pattern of having people walk to the front at the end of a sermon and allow the preacher to confess (generically) for them. For some that brings the relief and assurance of prayer that allows them to make a renewed start.  I think it falls short of James 5, but it’s still a brave act of faith.

“Since it is likely that, being men, they would sin every day, St. Paul consoles his hearers by saying ‘renew yourselves’ from day to day. This is what we do with houses: we keep constantly repairing them as they wear old. You should do the same thing to yourself. Have you sinned today? Have you made your soul old? Do not despair, do not despond, but renew your soul by repentance, and tears, and Confession, and by doing good things. And never cease doing this.” ― John Chrysostom

The need for confession dispels the ‘lone Christian’ approach to faith. It implies that we need one another. I don’t know how to tell you to go about finding a priest/confessor if it is not provided in your journey of faith. Sometimes people find themselves in support groups with people who struggle with the same sin … but many of these groups are not especially spiritual or pointing toward spiritual disciplines by nature. A Christian counselor can be a huge help, but again, I’m not sure that’s what James had in mind.

So however this forms in your life and faith journey, at least consider how important confession is. Even if we don’t like it. Even if it is risky.   It could be that the healing you’ve been desiring so deeply will be found in this exercise of faith.

And if someone chooses you as a confessor, remember what a priceless gift that is.

Thanks for reading, John.