Monday, May 26, 2008

Confession and Reconciliation

My friend Mark Byrer leads the High School ministry of our church. This past Tuesday he invited me to speak on the subjects of confession and reconciliation. I accepted, not really thinking about the gruesome reality that often when we are asked to speak about a subject in faith, we are directly challenged with that very subject.

So during the few days leading up to my talk I had opportunities galore to really screw up a lot. I had opportunities to sin (don't we all?), and I had opportunities to hurt my relationships with people who I cared about (Yuck!).

And in the middle of these times, I had some valuable lessons about confession and reconciliation driven home to me. We can be pretty ugly people--I can be extremely ugly. My choices, my words, my attitudes, can often show more of my own sinfulness then my new life in Christ.

And yet, in the middle of those situations, in the middle of those blow-ups, in the middle of that sin, God gives us an opportunity for intense healing. You know, most protestants get a little weirded out by the whole confession thing or the idea of asking for forgiveness. There is an intellectual understanding that we have been forgiven for our sins once and for all so that there is no longer any need to ask for forgiveness again or to confess our sins to others. And so we have a general understanding of some positional truth in our new life in Christ, but often times, as a result, we wear masks.

And yet, when we humble ourselves and take off our masks, God is able to do something tremendous in our lives. You see, when we humble ourselves, and admit our faults to another--particularly if it is another that we have wronged, God does something both psychologically and physiologically within us. The burdens that we carry are now no longer ours alone to lug around. It isn't that God hasn't already forgiven us--that happened at calvary, it's really that something happens to our character when we make ourselves humble and seek to make things right with others.

When we are willing to reconcile, we take off our masks, and the beauty of Christ in us shines forth. Of course we are forgiven, but what kind of people would we be if when we have wronged others, we didn't seek to take steps toward reconciliation. We would like flowers that never quite came to bloom. But as we open our lives to one another in humility, healing and reconciliation take place.

As I spoke to this group of high school students, I couldn't help but imagine what might take place in their lives as they left intent on making things right with friends and family members.

Maybe God has been prompting you to be reconciled. Maybe other people will never be reconciled to you, but that's not your responsibility. In as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men--that's what the Bible says. As you read this, and as the LORD leads, may you find the courage to seek reconciliation and humble confession to a close friend. In the process, may you find your burden's lifted and your love for Christ becoming more radiant for all the world to see!

No comments: