, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Read It and Weep”

Why is it so important that we “confess our sins to one another”?

Depending on your church or background, this might be a rather important question to answer. Many churches out there…perhaps even most, but I can’t speak for everyone…can be rather judgmental. And I’m not talking about in the sense of “calling sin a sin”, because it’s important to recognize evil. I’m talking about in the sense of creating an atmosphere of people being set apart or seemingly “better” than everyone else. Needing to conform to a certain standard. Sometimes it has roots in Biblical terms, and sometimes it has roots in man-made theology…but either way the implicit idea is you have to be this “sort of person” in order to be there. Some go beyond seeing sin as an action or choice and start thinking of it more in terms of an individual. And that’s not just religious nature (although that’s one of the major culprits), that’s in everyone. People want to look at one aspect of another human being and then be able to “classify them” or “put them in a neat little box”. I’ve touched on numerous examples of that in the past, so I won’t rehash that here.

And because it’s nature to put people in nice little groups, it makes it all the more easy for one moment to “make or break them”. To let one attribute decide who they are. Especially in regards to sins, past misdeeds, or mistakes. Many people are aware of this aspect of human nature, which means, naturally, that many people are very afraid to let anyone else in on the one issue, attribute, sin, or whatever about them for fear they’ll immediately be dubbed as someone loathsome, hateful, or any other nasty connotation.

And that brings us to today’s episode. While bedridden in a hospital trying to stave off boredom, Rainbow Dash finds herself unwittingly becoming a fan of the literary character Daring Do. As a result, she soon develops an acute fear that others will discover her newfound fandom and judge her as a result, thinking of her as being nerdy, geeky, or an “egghead” because she suddenly likes to read. That in spite of the fact that she’s athletic, competitive, and loves winning and flying, that none of that will matter in the view of her liking to read one series of books. This eventually drives her to rather extreme lengths to try and keep anyone from finding out about her new fandom, but also leads to her frequently bemoaning the fact that she’s become an “egghead”; actually believing her own fears that she’s a certain individual because of one choice she’s made.

It’s a bit of a silly example, but it’s a fair illustration of real life. After all, as I’ve said before, bronies are often considered to be immature, childish, and possibly even perverted all for their love of a single show. Fans of Star Trek and Star Wars are often portrayed as male deadbeats who have to live with their parents when they’re forty and have no social life or ability to date others. Gamers are similarly treated as those without lives who can only fatten up sitting in front of their TV screens all day, every day.

However, those are just fandoms, and while in some cases they can lead individuals to want to hide those aspects for themselves for fear of alienating friends or loved ones, these are minor stereotypes. Yet it’s far worse for those who have committed past misdeeds or crimes. No one wants to own up to prior drug use on a job application, for example, if they can avoid it…and for good reason. Even if they’re clean now, their would-be employers will likely dismiss them as untrustworthy and unsuitable for the position compared to one who doesn’t unless they’re of a forgiving temperament. It’s likely if someone is going into a job or volunteer position that involves children that they aren’t about to advertise any incident of yelling, discipline or corporal punishment with children that has the trappings of abuse they may have been guilty of. Christians who came from other faiths or even atheism originally probably don’t feel too comfortable talking about times when they may have cursed out God or Jesus, mocked other Christians, or even engaged in Christian-targeted slander or vandalism.

Or maybe the past sins are really heavy. Such as theft, assault, battery, rape…or even worse than that. Things that, essentially, if the individual had been caught in the act would have landed them some jail time…or worse. Things that you hear routinely (and probably rightfully) condemned by society all the time. In this case, most people realize that simply saying “that’s not me anymore” might not necessarily be enough. That many will still judge them and condemn them.

These people may be asking themselves a good question…why do they need to confess their sins before others? They’ve already confessed them to God, haven’t they? Put their trust in him and received forgiveness by the Blood of Jesus, haven’t they? Well…they’re now “clean” in the eyes of God. So why try to risk incurring the judgment, chagrin, and wrath of others who are far less forgiving by exposing their past crimes?

Well, first off, we should always avoid confessing our sins to people who will simply use it as an excuse to judge you and condemn you, because that doesn’t do anyone much good and is highly non-Christ-like. Jesus only condemned individuals who clung to their sin and called themselves without it; never those who admitted their wrongdoing and sought to atone for it.

But more importantly, the reason we confess to others is because humans are social creatures. We want to belong. We want friendships and relationships. We want people to understand us. And if we’re hiding who we truly are or lying to others about our past or covering it up, then we won’t feel anyone ever knows the “real us”. If they did know the real us, we figure they would hate us or avoid us. That gradually creates the idea that we ourselves are bad and not just actions we may have done. We are someone to be ashamed of, because we are “unlovable”. And if we feel we are unlovable, then that leads to all sorts of problems. We’ll start seeing ourselves as inferior to everyone. We’ll start misconstruing every act of kindness and love to us, saying: “If they knew the real me, they wouldn’t be doing that.” We might even start to see ourselves as despicable, irredeemable, or hated by God.

If we are truly sorry for past mistakes and are truly seeking repentance, then we must know that God forgives us completely. As Paul said in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Some people may not…but in that case that’s more of a testament to the weakness of human mercy rather than a problem on your end. And we should definitely make an effort to seek out people who will accept us for who we are, no matter our past or background, and share the love of Jesus with us just the same. They are out there. I can personally testify to that. Perhaps they’re people who have rather “checkered” backgrounds of their own and therefore know what it means to forgive more than others.

The bottom line…when we show people who we truly are and find that they love us just the same, then the Love of God becomes real. The Body of Christ becomes active. Then we can feel on a deeper and more intimate level the same measure of love that God has for us. And when we feel that acceptance and connection to other people, then we can finally be free of our own fears, realizing we’re neither hopeless nor “the unforgivable one in the world”, and move on to become all we were meant to be.

Just as confessing sin to God is, confession of sin before others is not about becoming more chained down to guilt and shame. It’s about setting yourself free.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that there is no past sin, wrong, or misdeed I can commit that you refuse to forgive when I confess and repent of it. That, as you said through your prophet Isaiah, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.’ Please lead me to others who will love and accept me the same as you do so that I can be free not only of my sin but also my shame and guilt. And if I have been hurt by such individuals in the past, please grant me healing to risk showing my true self to others again. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”