There is a pretty clear mandate in scripture that we are to be a confessing people. In the Old Testament, God links confession and repentance with his covenant loyalty toward his people (Lev 26:40). In many other passages the people’s confession is a prerequisite to having an intimate connection with God. The New Testament is no different.
James 5:3-16 – “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
We have known all along that singing is important and we have outlets for that. We have known that prayer is important and we have outlets for people to do that. We have known that confession is important but I do wonder if we are lacking effective ways for people to carry that out?
1 John 1:8-10– “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. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”
We live such private lives. We don’t know our neighbors. It is very difficult for people to open up on a deeper level. How do we move from, “Hi, how are you?” “Fine.” to confessing our sins and becoming vulnerable to each other? We all sin and need outlets for confession yet the invitation is only used for that a few times during the year rather than hundreds. I think we could use a more effective outlet for confession. LIFE groups/small groups are a pretty good outlet for confession if people will take advantage of it. It is less intimidating and you are not confessing before 500 people. It can be done in confidentiality with the group if people finally get comfortable with each other and learn that we have to be vulnerable with God and others if we want to grow closer to both.
What has worked for you? Where do you feel safe confessing? How could we do better in helping people with an area that is essential for their spiritual growth? One thing I would suggest – being ready to accept people once we learn their struggles. If they confess and hear snickers or gasps, it is likely that will be the last time they will try that. And we must remember that at times we will be the one confessing and we don’t want people doing that to us. Confessing needs to be safe and safe comes from a supporting environment.
Here is a link to our small group lesson on confessing in prayer.