Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Confession is Good For the Soul

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" however, it is one of the most difficult disciplines of a Jesus follower. Nevertheless it is a requirement to living a life with Jesus. John the Baptizer preached a message of baptism and repentance which resulted in life change. We like the thought of baptism, it implies being clean and belonging, but repenting usually is accompanied by pain--a kind of pain that needs to be avoided at all costs. It involves too much introspection, too much self reflection, too much exposure. That kind of "life change" we can do without!

I've been thinking a lot about confession and the steps that are necessary to come to that place of a “right spirit.” Confession is at the heart of our Christian faith and yet in our prayers, in our relationships, in our Christian communities confession isn’t practiced very regularly. I once read an article about the increasing number of web sites that offer "anonymous online confession" and the number of "hits" they were receiving. Given the high number of “hits” it would appear that as individuals, as a church, as a culture we are in desperate need of God's confronting Spirit.

There’s a reason why genuine confession and repentance is so difficult, it entails coming to God, silent, listening to what he has to say about what he sees and knows isn't right. Generally we don't like being confronted even if we know we’ve done wrong! Consequently, being confronted by our Creator is particularly intimidating because of His x-ray vision that sees beyond the superficial looking at the heart, which is “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV).

We know with our minds that sin is anything that goes against what God desires. But defensively we put a "value" on sin which helps us avoid our culpability. Surely, a little “constructive criticizing" of our church leaders isn't nearly as "sinful" as murder. Passing along information that in the passing loses it’s truth and perhaps 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!

There are an endless number of excuses that we can generate for our sins. But whether it be gossip or slander, selfishness or willfulness, murder or adultery, it all has the same “value” to God. Unfortunately, sin is sin. God just doesn't see sin with our “creative” nuances.

In order to experience spiritual growth and maturity, along with spiritual health, as individuals or in our Christian communities, a willingness to hear God's confronting voice will be necessary. There will be surprises at what He points to because it will probably be those little “sins” we thought innocuous, that we did in "love", thought didn't really hurt anyone or believed, self-righteously, that we were doing the “right thing.”

Little or big, our sins are destructive. Restoration, transformation, healing begins when we humbly fall on our faces praying,

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

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