But there's one problem
And the problem is: I don’t want you to know who I am. I’m selfish, and I don’t want anyone to know that. I’m unkind, and I want to hide it. I’m shallow and break promises and my heart is completely different from what I wish it was. Im a sinner, but I want everyone to think I’m not that bad.
“The church” has not made it easy for me to not be this way. They say they want people to be open and honest, but I know what will happen if I am. They preach forgiveness, as long as it’s Jesus who has to forgive, and not any of them. None of this is right, and none of it is what Jesus taught, and it may not actually be your experience at all. But is was my experience, over and over.
I have not made it easy for “the church” I have to admit. I have done things that are difficult for people to deal with. I have had affairs, messed up two marriages, committed public sins when in ministry, and fallen into addictions that caused hurt and harm to others. I don’t think people should simply sweep those away with forgiveness and just say, “it’s ok.” But I also don’t think they should turn and ignore. I know it’s hard to deal with me, but I have a little revelation—it’s really hard to deal with you too.
What if on one Sunday morning God decided to reveal all of our sins to everyone else. Above our heads would float everything we had done, secret and open, like the writing on the wall. How interested do you think we would be in reading what was on other people’s lists? Or would we be more concerned with seeking God’s forgiveness with what we could look up and see on our own list?
Confession means that we do just that. We don’t brag and parade our wrongdoings, we don’t dwell on our sins. But we are honest about who we are, before we attempt to be so “honest” about who everyone else is.
There was a time when I was waiting to go into a courtroom, to stand before a judge and admit to and face up to something I had done. One of my pastors went with, just to be there with me. As we were waiting, all of a sudden he shared with me how he had been sentenced to jail one time and a few other things. This is what God means by confession. My pastor had already dealt with this, he had already been forgiven. But now his confession was a means to further my own forgiveness and bring me peace.
And at that point is when my view of things changed from “the church” to The Church. We don’t ignore, we don’t sweep away. We deal with sin head on. We forgive, yet we are honest about the consequences. We love one another, so we help each other through the consequences as well. My honesty helps to bring about your forgiveness, and your honesty helps with mine.
Yes, I don’t want you to know all the bad things I have done. I don’t want you to know I’m hurtful and sinful and full of selfishness. But the fact is you already do know. You know because you are the same way. We both have to look eye to eye and admit it. In The Church we can do this knowing we are forgiven, both by God and by each other. Honesty and openness is not just so we can find our own peace, it is so others will also find theirs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. - James 5:16
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
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. - Proverbs 28:13
Confession. The real kind. It’s hard. It’s hard to be honest. And it’s hard to forgive and it’s hard to love. But we are only giving back what has been given to us.
In 1938 the composer John Cage invented a technique of placing an object on and between the strings of a piano. This altered the sound, making it more percussive and essentially changing or losing the pitch of each note. He called this “prepared piano.” You can hear a prepared piano in “Confession.” The timbre is altered and it is now masking the piano, making it sound like something it was not intended to be.