March 30, 2012
I confess. I did not actually write this on March 30. I chaperoned an event at my oldest son’s school last night which lasted until ten o’clock and completely forgot when I got home. So now it is Saturday and I have to post to keep up with my Lenten commitment. Confession, I believe is good for the soul. It is also something most protestants to a particularly bad job of. In worship we occasionally do corporate confession, usually something extremely generic like “we confess the things we have done and the things we have left undone”. Well, that is really thought provoking and meaningful (please read with intense sarcasm).
I have often hungered for the type of confession that Catholics engage in. People come to church and speak to their pastor in the most private feeling way contrivable the ways in which they personally are struggling or failing. Wouldn’t it be great to just get it all out? We can certainly confess to God, but when there is a human agent involved we get to have feed-back and encouragement. Someone reminds us that we are in fact forgiven. The need for this is probably a reason why therapy has become so popular.
Ironically, while I yearn for a better system of confession, I’m really not that in to sin. I certainly think that we all sin, but I don’t think that we need to exaggerate the size of our sins to feel like we really need God in our lives. I think that is an old device of the church to make people feel that they need God and the church. However, I feel like God offers me a much larger package than just forgiveness of sins. Regardless of the size of our sins, as people of faith we should all be striving to do better. If we don’t take seriously the areas in which we feel we need to grow we aren’t really on the path to Christ-like holiness. Having a formal and concrete venue for recognizing and sometimes itemizing our failures and weaknesses allows us to make more constant course corrections. The more frequent those course corrections, the closer we stay to the path. I think we are challenged to develop for ourselves a system of confession that is meaningful for us individually. It could be writing them down, sharing them with a trusted friend, speaking with a pastor or therapist…you may be able to come up with even better ideas. Whatever the format, a generic confession of what we have done and left undone doesn’t cut it. Not for us, and not for God. Make a real confession and then be accountable. It is a great way for God to grow us.