Monday, October 27, 2008

Thoughts on Confession

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

It may be that "confession is good for the soul" but it is definitely one of the most difficult disciplines of a Jesus follower. And yet, it is perhaps the number one requirement when it comes to living a life with Jesus. In Mark we see that John the Baptizer preached a message of baptism and repentance which resulted in life change. We like the thought of baptism, that implies being clean and belonging, but repenting becomes a painful thought, one to be avoided. We don't like what it will take or what it will demand.

I've been thinking recently about confession after having it as an assigned topic for a Sunday School class. It definitely wasn't a subject I wanted to address because of what it required--allowing God to confront my sin! But then, after reading an article about the increasing number of web sites that offer "anonymous online confession" and the number of "hits" they were receiving it would appear that as individuals, as a church, as a culture we are in desperate need of God's confronting.

The reason why true confession and repentance is so difficult is because of what it requires--standing before God, silent, listening to what he has to say about what he sees and knows isn't right. We don't like to confront each other, much less be confronted! Consequently being confronted by our Creator is particularly intimidating.

We know we sin. Sin is anything that goes against what God wants. The problems rise when we put a "value" on sin. Surely "criticizing" our church leaders isn't nearly as "sinful" as murder. Passing along information that isn't yours to pass--well, come on now, "gossip" can't possibly be held to the same standard as breaking one's marriage vows!

We can find any number of excuses for our sin. But whether it be slandering someone we don't like or murdering them it is the same in God's eyes. Sin is sin. He just doesn't see the same distinctions that we do.

If, as Jesus followers, we want to experience growth in our lives and health in our churches it will require our willingness to hear God's confronting voice. We will be surprised at what he points to because it will be those things that we thought innocuous, those little "sins" that we did in "love" or thought didn't really hurt anyone.

Little or big, it doesn't matter, sin destroys. God, however, begins the restoration process when humbly we fall on our faces praying,
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

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