Yesterday on SCL, Jon asked what we’d be afraid to confess/admit at our church. I think that as ministers it’s time we stop assuming that our church is the exception to the rule, and start focusing less on sin and more on the one who came to seek and save sinners. This ought to be a sobering reminder for us that, as I said in my comment over there, the gospel is NEWS as opposed to instruction. Stop telling your people how to stop sinning and clean up their act. Tell them of the one whose act was clean, who offers his record in exchange for their broken, ugly one.
I am stuck on the thought that what I witnessed yesterday over at Stuff Christians Like, though good, is not confession. I did a quick perusal of the words translated as “confess” in our English Bibles (thanks to my Logos Bible Software, it took all of 5 minutes) and found out that Christian confession, from a biblical standpoint, is almost always viewed as positive, joyful, and beneficial. What I also deduced is that “anonymous confession” is an impossible contradiction of terms, biblically.
See, though it may be therapeutic to give voice to the things you would never tell a soul as an anonymous comment on a blog, you have not yet confessed your sin. You’re close, but you’re not there yet.
My heart broke as I read through the comments on that site, for the fact that we don’t understand the gospel if there is nobody in our lives with whom we can share the darkest parts of us. There was a part of me that wanted to shout, “Is that all you’ve got?” after reading those “confessions.”
See, having walked with Christ for somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 years, I’ve begun to notice a pattern. Every time I think “there’s nobody that struggles with this particular sin…” and then I share it with a group of guys, about half of them struggle in the same ways with the same things. And I am increasingly unsurprised by the depths to which my heart can go. I think some of the most hateful things, on a very regular basis. My heart resonated with many of the things I saw “confessed” in those comments. But my heart also deeply resonates with the fact that Christ has freed me from myself.
The thing we need most, as ministers, is to resist the lie that says our people are not bad people. There are two categories of people. (1) Bad, crooked, depraved people in need of redemption; and (2) Jesus.
That’s not to say that God doesn’t give us a new heart with new motives and new direction, as He certainly does; just that we ought not to think that our old heart dies when our new one is born.
The other thing we need to take from the “confessions” is that people need the gospel. Over and Over and Over. Daily, hourly, minute-by-minute. We all need to constantly remember the gospel, or good news that Jesus has become sin for us (even the ugliest sin we can think of) so that, in Him, we might become the righteousness of God (by GRACE).
My favorite word in 1 John 1:9 is “just.” It doesn’t say God is “faithful and merciful” (which would make sense) but that he is faithful and JUST. Because Christ died for all of my wickedness (some of which is ongoing), it is his justice that is satisfied by my confessing (joyfully, and without reservation) that wickedness. He would be unjust to condemn me for something for which Christ already died.