Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together:
Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy…He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone.” p.110
In Leviticus we read that when a person had an infectious skin disease they had to do the work of ostracizing themselves, pushing themselves to the margins of society. It’s like operating on your own heart. Can you imagine shouting, “Unclean, Unclean” everywhere you went?
What a humiliating badge of dishonor.
Wouldn’t it be great if the church (who are people) got real and admitted that we are all broken?
Wouldn’t it be great if we admitted our whole addiction to acceptance?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if confession was seen as courageous?
A true sign of belief?
Wouldn’t we look like Jesus if we embraced confession with grace and forgiveness?
But for some reason, we hide behind a billboard that says “I’m Fine” on it.
Like some sick and twisted game of Sardines, where the winner is the last one to have to hide.
I was thinking about this as I walked around my church office not only nursing the end of this flu or whatever side effect of absorbing too many neutrinos, and I thought about shouting “Unclean”. I might be over it, by my family is in various stages of the sickness. “Unclean, unclean.” The very thought of what it would mean kept me from saying anything.
But I bet a lot of us feel like we should be yelling.
In the quote above, Bonhoeffer is talking about confession as a community exercise. Confession feels like it’s shouting “Unclean, unclean.” We’ve all had an experience with the Church where confession is involved and many of us have pretty much decided to keep to ourselves.
Jesus had another approach: Don’t walk past it, Broadcast it!
A group of thousands gathered around him. They probably looked like a mega church. Each knew they were broken and burdened. Each hid their secret sins. And into this Jesus says, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees—I mean, the mismatch between their hearts and lives. Nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing is secret that won’t be brought out into the open. Therefore, whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and whatever you have whispered in the rooms deep inside the house will be announced from the rooftops [LK 12:1-3;CEB].”
To Jesus, there is nothing that shouldn’t be confessed.
Confession in the setting of grace is safer than hiding it.
No one should keep shame and guilt bottled up inside when they are surrounded by a grace community.
Like Bonhoeffer said, “He who is alone with is sin is utterly alone.”
That sounds nothing like the life Jesus brought into the world: Life To The Full.
While confessing our sins might be painful,
nothing could be more painful than
grace denied because of
I’m broken six ways to Sunday.
There. I confessed it.
I embrace Christ’s love and journey toward his cross.
And by his grace I am healed, whole and able to cast my burdens upon him.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [MT 11:28-30]
Click on the picture for an schooling in confession that we the body could learn a lot from.