What do we think of when we hear that word? I am probably nerdier than most, though not as much as some, and I immediately think of the famous book by Augustine of Hippo. Also, multiple phrases of a pop culture nature pop into my thoughts along the lines of “confessions of a ___________.” (None of which interest me in the least.)
Closer to reality comes the concept of a courtroom confession or a confession behind the scenes to some authority on a crime drama. I see these, and I see all of us, me in particular admitting that I am guilty, that I cannot claim to be innocent.
Perhaps most relevant, yet most twisted at times, I think of Catholic booths and awkward conversations that begin, “Forgive me, Father. I have sinned.”
Confession is something important to me (or rather for me. I’m still learning to fully understand its importance). As a Christian, it is ingrained in my identity. The Bible is full of injunctions to confess and believe. Confess Jesus. Confess sin. Confess. Repent. Believe. And I will be saved.
Now, though, I am moving in a new direction. I am trying to be monastic, or at least participate in an idea sometimes called New Monasticism. I haven’t actually looked much into what New Monstastics have to say about confession, but with the little I have encountered and what I know about historical monasticism, I think I can guess.
It’s a good thing. It’s vital. It’s life-giving.
I had my first opportunity to confess to my new community this week.
In all the fuss and hubbub of a move and a new life context with all the stressors involved, I discovered I was not responding appropriately. Specifically, Chrissy found I wasn’t responding well, and specifically, toward her.
Most of the time has been fine, but I have had moments of treating her with less and love and respect than she deserves. Not okay.
We discussed it, and I apologized, and I am working to do better. But we are not alone. We are an integral part of a larger whole. How I act in the house affects other people now. I decided I needed to confess and apologize to our housemates as well.
Needless to say, Eric and Mira were gracious.
They extended not only their own grace, but as representatives of Christ, they extend his grace as well.
The Catholic Church has some pretty messed up aspects of their ideas and practices regarding confession, but one thing they have right: priests are meant to take confessions, and priests are meant to give absolution. The problem is just that they forgot we are in a priesthood of all believers.
Jesus tells us about this authority in Matthew 18. We have the ability to speak on his behalf. We can and should take confessions. It is cleansing, it is healing, and it is sacred.
I will continue to confess both to God and to fellow Jesus followers, and I don’t expect to have my sins minimized or my mistakes brushed aside. I expect them to be treated seriously—and forgiven.
Confession is the path toward wholeness for broken people. Jesus paved the way for my forgiveness, and confession is how I make the rubber meet the road.