Monday, 17 June 2013

on confessing our sin

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

When I was 16 I went with my mother to church.  This was not something that I regularly did and I had never been to this specific church before.  While I was there, the pastor preached the gospel and the Holy Spirit must have opened my ears to hear because I heard it.  The idea that God wanted to embrace people into his family, into his love, was very compelling.  The pastor talked about how God forgives us for our sins.  I remember sitting in the pew listening to the message, feeling a deep yearning within my heart to be close to God, to be a part of His family, to be enveloped in His love and forgiven for my sins.  I kept trying to hold back the tears but they spilled down my face.  It was such an excruciating moment for me because I longed with all my heart to embrace the message but at the same time I felt like I could never enter in.  

Every time the pastor said "Jesus forgives all of your sins" I would continue his sentence in my head with "except mine".  Whenever he talked about people entering into the family of God I would think "that must be so wonderful for those people who haven't sinned like I have and who are therefore able to be embraced, able to enter into that family, that love".  I was hearing the gospel and was romanced by what it could do for people but I refused to believe that something so wonderful could be available to me....I knew my deeds too well.

When the church service was over, I remember going out into the parking lot with my mom and saying to myself "I am never walking into a church again".  I was in so much pain.

It's interesting how the Lord pursues people.  How He shows up in people's lives at certain moments and lifts the veil, granting us understanding and inviting us in.  I am so thankful that God doesn't have rejection issues, that just because I said no then and at other times that He was still relentless in His pursuit of me.  It may have taken a few more years from that moment when I was 16 and much creativity on His part in wooing me but obviously I did eventually say yes.  Oh what love!

The world needs to know that there is no sin too great for Jesus Christ.  Sometimes I think the church needs to know that there is no sin too great for Jesus Christ.  If and when we as the church keep certain sins hidden, when we stop confessing sin and act as though everything is perfect when it's not, we are denying the power of the gospel....we are denying that Jesus died for 'that' too.  We are denying Him and ourselves the opportunity to see what redemption can come out of it.  

Confessing sin is difficult.  We don't always want others to know what we're capable of.  Often we don't even want to admit to ourselves what we're capable of.  We're worried about the consequences of our confession....'what will people think of us?' 'will we lose stature within our community?'  This is natural but also detrimental to our freedom and our wholeness, not to mention our witness to others.

There is freedom and power in saying to ourselves, our Lord, and others that "I really messed this one up", "I blew it", "there is ugliness in my heart  and I don't know how to get rid of it" "I have sinned".  There is freedom because we can wholly be who we really are...we don't have to pretend that we're someone else or keep track of what we've told whom.  Freedom because of the solutions that come as a result of acknowledging the problems.  There is power because that is where Jesus comes in, the Healer,  Redeemer, Comforter. 

Let's please be people who are real with ourselves, our Lord, and one another.  Who of course use wisdom and discernment in who we confess to and in what details we give but who do nevertheless  confess.   People who give Jesus the opportunity to change us, to forgive us for our sins, to bring beauty from ashes, to be glorified through our lives.  The enemy wants us to keep things in darkness, hidden.  We must live in the light.  Let's please be a witness to people like my 16 year old self that there is no sin too great for the Lord to forgive, that we all screw up sometimes and have done things that are wrong.   We cannot do that if we're too busy trying to look as though we've got it all together when we don't, as though we don't struggle when we do, as though there's no darkness within our hearts when there is, as though we never sin when we do. 

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.  1 John 1: 7

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