I talked on Sunday about the final ritual in our RITUAL series - Confession. I argued that confession is our part of Easter - that true confession requires me being as honest about myself as I am about Jesus.
I think it's easier for us to talk about how great Jesus is. He died for our sins. He made the sacrifice. He defeated death. And it seems to me that we often see ourselves as...spectators. Bystanders. Jesus suffers...we watch. Jesus dies...we observe. Jesus rises from the dead...we celebrate.
But we have a part that is more than passive. You might have been in church on the day I talked about the Ritual of Commitment when I said something like this, "Jesus did NOT die so that I WOULD be with him for all eternity. He died for the CHANCE that I MIGHT be with him. He didn't die so that I WOULD be saved, but for the CHANCE that I MIGHT be saved. I still have to do my part."
Well, my part of the commitment is confession. It's confession about who Jesus is (see Romans 10:9) and confession about who I am (see Romans 3:23). I'm broken, lost, blind, sinful, tainted, afraid, a failure, corrupt...I could keep going, but you get the point. All of those things apply to me, but they also apply to you.
So, Exactly HOW do I confess?
1) Sometimes, I need to confess to other people. This happens in 2 ways:
- When I have wronged someone, I usually need to go to them, apologize, and attempt to make it right. This is not always possible. But when it is, we should do it. Yes, there will be consequences. But, remember, we walk in the light. John 11:25 - followers of Jesus do not walk in darkness, but in the light of life. For all to see. We make a mistake - we admit it. We own it. Get it on the table and deal with it.
- Sometimes, I need to confess my sin to a friend or two, or to a small group of friends. I've done this many times. It just helps to unload a burden to them. I find that Christ followers who really love me help me find the truth about myself more easily, offer grace and forgiveness more freely, and give me accountability more effectively. Good friends pray for me and with me, too.
2) Always, I need to confess to God. I don't really require my pastor, bishop, deacon or the Pope to intercede for me. Romans 8:26-27 says that the Spirit of God will intercede for me even when my own words fail. When I confess to God, I'm not telling Him something He doesn't already know. It's not like God hears my confession and says, "No Kidding! You didn't! No way!" Confession is not to inform God, it's to inform ME! I believe that God cleanses and purifies and forgives at confession (1 John 1:9), and that he also speaks at confession. We hear His voice and feel His presence and experience His healing. You can confess your sin to God anytime, anywhere, and He will hear you.
One final note: true confession is 'repentant'. Repentance is a churchy word that churches like PCC (and pastors like me) have thrown out, but it's a word that we ought to revive. It means that you are not just speaking empty words, but that you sincerely accept that your action, thought, word - that whatever you did was wrong. You honestly want to do it differently, better.
Confession is not a license to keep doing what you want, but a statement of intent to do what God wants.
Confession should not be a 'dirty' word, reserved for only slimeballs and dirtbags with a conscious. It's for everyone. And we can confess without fear, because we know that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9)