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Confession for the Common Good

When was the last time you experience a powerful moment of grace in your life? When the line between heaven and earth seemed to disappear?

You were known, fully and completely and at the same time loved, steadfast and wholly by your fellow brother or sister. I truly do believe even with the best of technology there is an implicit pedagogy of what it means to be human. The worship that technology prescribes teaches us how to operate and worship within the techno-temple of the 21st century. But alas, I am not ringing the dull bell of drastic apocalyptic measures. There is no need to hold vigils for the death of our social media personas, or hold mass burnings of our gadgets, or go offline. Technology is a wonderful gift but when it comes to human connection and community it can give darkness to our light and light to our darkness. It is possible that we have bought into the culturally wrong belief of confession that is stifling connection and breeding division.

What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.” Proverbs 19:22

I have always thought of myself as a fairly open and transparent person. I’ve watch Brene Brown’s “The power of vulnerability” at least eighty-seven times, I’ve shared my life story with friends, but I’m sure like everyone else we still keep just a bit of ourselves tucked away from the light of the world. We tell ourselves “If people really knew this about me they wouldn’t love me”. I get it, trust me. This narrative wasn’t something I was explicitly commanded to believe, but it was more so caught as I with an unguarded heart liked, scrolled, tweeted, posted; ingesting into my bones a way of life. We believe that confession is broadcasting our best selves to the world. At best, I have lived my life ninety percent open and kept ten percent tucked deep within the confines of my heart for no one else to see or know. What if we don’t live our lives from the ninety percent, but from the ten percent. We carry around with us heavy shadows of our true selves. Pretending everything is okay all the while the ten percent we carry drags our souls to utter despair. This act of hiding withholds from us light and love.

“So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed” James 5:16a

From the earliest centuries the act of confession in the Church was therapeutic before it was forensic (juridical). By participating in sin and its privation of light and truth, we become the opposite, darkened and untrue— so it was seen as a means to participate in the light and become honest before God and man receiving healing love. From the earliest times members, before the congregation partook of the love feast, would stand up and publicly confess their sins to one another– talk about gutsy transparency! The sickness of sin is like shrink wrap, closing you off from loving God and neighbor but this act of love and healing reintegrates you within yourself, towards others, and your awareness of the love of God towards you that never went away.

“When we talk about our strengths it breeds competition, when we talk about our weaknesses we build community”

People of the day, children of light— this is our calling. Find a community of people where they are willing to tread softly on the holy ground of your story and what is precious to you would remain precious to you after you share. Two weeks ago a gentleman told me “When you have the opportunity to tell the truth, make sure you tell the whole truth. The lies you tell most confidently are the lies you end up believing and becoming.” I had the opportunity to tell it all, and it was a powerful experience and the lie that it is impossible to be fully know and fully loved was challenged. So, go to the place where you keep you, ten percent and drag it out kicking and screaming into the light of love and truth. Step back, and watch as you and your community come alive.

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