How many of you like to confess?
How many of you like to tell the person you’ve wronged, by what you said or did, or, by what you failed to do or say?
My guess is that the number is comparatively low when juxtaposed to those of us who prefer to think that they're just fine and making significant contributions to Kingdom. But putting on confession is a central part of this Lenten journey.
It, in many ways, defines us.
For Protestants, we have so vitiated the character of confession as a over reaction to do anything other than what our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers have done, that what we end up making a mockery of this spiritual discipline.
“I don’t need to confess to a priest to have my sins forgiven,” we say, “I just need to confess to God.”
What a sad theological perspective to adopt.
And, what a convenient excuse to keep us from being honest with ourselves and accountable to anyone else that we have the capacity, and sometimes the will, to do or say the most hellish things.
So, we'll just keep it between God and us.
Confession should never be perfunctory, but it should be.
And while an intermediary is not required for absolution, it is a crucial part of "coming clean."
Confession to God, to one another, to a trusted guide, pastor, friend, or confidant. There is something about being able to say out loud what only inwardly we’d dare ponder about our actions that brings us one step closer to healing.
Our sisters and brothers who are working the 12 steps know this better than most church folks. While that's to their credit and ultimately their healing and sobriety - our inability and unwillingness to confess unless on our own self-protective terms is to our detriment.
And why? Because we don't really believe we can be forgiven. That's the only true conclusion that we can draw.
Granted, it's a radical thing to forgive. In fact, is was the thing that drew the ire of the religious leaders of Jesus' time because he announced it was a reality in and through him.
One last word.
Confession isn’t only about admitting what we’ve done.
Confession is also admitting who we are – what is the stuff of our soul. It is an unveiling of our hearts for others to see. In American Sign Language, the sign for “confess” look like someone literally unveiling their hearts to let others look in at the truth of who they are.
As Christians, we are called to confess not only what we’ve done, but who we are.
And who are, will you admit it?
We are children of God who have put on this Jesus of Nazareth - he "who in the fullness of God was pleased to dwell."