As we wrap up this Confessions from Your Pastors series, I thought it might be smart to talk about confession.
First, I DO NOT recommend confessing stuff to 1000s of people with no feedback (or even lots of people you don’t know well)—do not try this at home! As I’ve talked to all our teaching staff, we’ve all experienced that ‘naked’ feeling Monday morning where you think, “Wow—I just stripped emotionally in front of all those people.” So that’s how NOT to do it; we were doing it to teach (not for our own edification).
Confessing struggles, temptations, and especially sins or really shameful things does not come easy for anyone. In fact, most people will not confess because letting people in on deep secrets has wounded them in the past. They have felt betrayed, gossiped about, or likely the information got used against them. So why confess?
To Live in Grace
God’s Grace (His love demonstrated in mercy and forgiveness and full acceptance) frees us to be ourselves fully. God says through Jesus substitutionary payment, He not only paid for all our wrongs, but He paid the price for full reconstructive surgery and the cost of adoption into His family—you are His beloved child and He already sees you as perfect in His eyes (“holy and blameless in his sight” read Ephesians 1). But here’s the thing, if I am still trying to live in pretense (acting to others like I’m better than I really am, on my own efforts), I am not living in the Light of Grace. I am not yet free—confession frees you by forcing you to live in Grace.
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:5-9). When we can walk in the Light with God—being totally honest about everything—he forgives and cleanses us (he already has, we just don’t experience it without confessing to Him and turning back). But notice too, this is something we do together, “if we walk in the light…we have fellowship (a common bond) with one another.” God wants us to experience being His new family of Grace, who don’t need to pretend because He accepts us, so we can accept one another (Romans 15:7). Only as we are fully known will we ever feel fully accepted.
To Find Healing
We all got wounded by people—family, relatives, peers, bullies, girlfriends, boyfriends—people! It may have been deep wounds of sexual or physical/verbal abuse, or it may be that little constant criticism just hardened your heart and shut you down. Whatever it was, people wounded us. That’s why God’s restoration plan for humanity…involves restored humans. Life by life, God forgives and adopts each willing person into His new family. And instead of the old gossiping, judging, back-biting, manipulating, mask-wearing, self-promoting ways of old, He leads His family to live in loving, confessing, accepting ways that heal each other. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
With Safe People
You need to be a safe person, and you need to find safe people for this very reason. Because God gives you the power to co-labor with Him in restoring what’s broken about humanity. You can either be a healing agent, or you can do a lot more damage (especially when people hope God’s family will be different and take a risk). So here are a few things to become and look for in confessional community with a few Spiritual Running Partners (1-2 others who run the race of faith with you):
1) Be Confidential Always (Proverbs 11:13) – do not ever share with others, even a spouse, things confessed in trust. Agree to confidentiality and remind each other.
3) Be a Listener (James 1:19) – listen more than you talk, ask questions, be curious.
4) Ask Permission to Give Advice – Jesus said don’t cast “pearls at pigs” – throwing pearls of wisdom where they’re not wanted is not helpful.
5) Correct Gently (Galatians 6:1).