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Thursday, May 13, 2010

confessing sins as a Christian

I was reading a blog from and it sparked my interest.

Jonathan Acuff's title? "Confessing Safe Sins".

It is so true.

Pastor James writes in James 5:16, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."

We Christians, and especially we Pentecostal types, are not really into confessing our sins.

In the New Testament the Christians confessed to each other. During the Dark Ages, they confessed to the priests. Freud said confess to the counselor. Protestants said, "we're not gong to confess to anybody."

And as a result, we have a lot of problems and hang-ups.

For some reason we have bought into the idea that being holy means carrying around an aura of spiritual invincibility, that a true, anointed Christian is one who never sins.

So to compensate for that, we confess our "safe sins." I was reading a book by a younger, hip, nationally known speaker, and in one of his chapters he deals with overcoming temptation and sin. His temptation? Workaholism. Now there is a "safe sin" if there ever was one. He even confessed that he went to therapy for it.

Lust? Nah. Jealousy? Nope. Thoughts of revenge? No way.

Now, I practice what I call "limited vulnerability." Limited vulnerability is the principle that my level of self disclosure is raised to the range of group that I am with.

To the church as a whole, I would confess one thing. To my small group another. To my wife, a deeper level still. To God, well everything.

Yet at the same time, vulnerability breeds vulnerability.

Jonathan Acuff writes, "Have you ever been in a small group with people who confess safe sins? Someone will say, "I need to be honest with everyone tonight. I need to have full disclosure." So you brace yourself for this crazy moment of authenticity and the person take a deep breath and says, "I haven't been reading my Bible enough."

Acuff goes on to write, "Ugh, you dirty, dirty sinner. I'm not ever sure I can be in a small group with you anymore. Not reading your Bible enough, that is disgusting. And then once he's gone, someone else will catch the safe sin bug too and will says, "I need to be real too. I haven't been paring enough."

I love it.

Jonathan writes, "Two of you in the same room? Wow, freak shows! I can barely stand it."

How is that being "real" in the body of Christ?

Perhaps God is challenging us to take the plunge and be courageous and be open about our downfalls and temptations and limits. Perhaps God is challenging us all to stop trying to be something we aren't - which is perfect?

Here is a great rule of thumb - confess as widely as it involves other people.

If I've got a private sin, just between me and the Lord, then I ought to just confess it to the Lord. If I confess it to the Lord and continue to walk in the same sin, or give in to the same temptation, I need to confess it to a smaller group of people that can keep me accountable (like a small group).

If it is a personal sin between me and you, then I need to come to you. If it's a public sin, then I need to apologize to the whole church. James says, confess your sins, not broadcast them.

The point is, we all need at least one person (or small group) with the levels of trust and vulnerability are so high that we can share our struggles with.

Job writes, "A man needs his friend most when he's doubting God."

Just some thoughts for a Thursday. And oh, by the way, did I share with you that I am struggling with working too much at the church?

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