I have a confession to make!   Leave a comment

When I recently preached on Psalm 32 I was really struck by the significance of confession in the life of a Christian. For many, the word is significantly misunderstood and simply carries the implication of focussing on what we have done wrong and ‘fessing up! The images from the Catholic faith of wooden closets with little windows through which you recount your deepest dark secrets are not I suggest very helpful.

So what does the word mean? Well, at its simplest, it means to acknowledge or confront and can be used in both positive and negative contexts. In his epistle, John urges us to confess our sin but Paul in Romans similarly encourages us to confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9)*. James, however, suggests that we confess our sin to one another (James 5:16). Given all these different uses of the word in scripture I believe it warrants us looking more carefully at what this should mean for us.

Each of the uses above suggests a different response. The acknowledgment [confession] of having done something wrong, according to David, results in not the burden of shame and guilt but the freedom of forgiveness (Ps 32:5). The confession of Jesus as Lord brings salvation (Rom 10:9) and James tells us that confession of sin to one another results in the prayer support (James 5:16)

In his book “Breathing Under Water” Richard Rohr looks at the parallels between the gospel and the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. When he comes to Step 5, Admit to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs” makes some really powerful observations:

” Any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge, and what you do not acknowledge will remain in control of you from within, festering and destroying you and those around you”

“When human beings” admit” to one another” the exact nature of their wrongs” we invariably have a human and humanizing encounter that deeply enriches both sides”

So it seems that a fresh and broader look at the concept of confession as “confrontation” or “acknowledgment” can bring us rather and discouragement and depression a wonderful sense of release and freedom. Those who attend liturgical churches are often taken through the routine of confession during each service. Perhaps those of us not familiar with such practices might benefit from thinking about somehow adopting not simply the practice of confession but consider what might be called a confessional lifestyle and then bask in the blessing of Ps 32:2 the joy of lives “lived in complete honesty”

*The KJV actually uses the word “confess”, other versions use “openly declare”

Posted January 14, 2020 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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