I don’t know much about Catholicism. In fact I was raised Mennonite. I never talk about my denomination because I don’t really think it’s that relevant to what I write about here. I sometimes get weary with denominations. It’s often another way we divide ourselves from each other.
I’m not saying denominations don’t have a place in our lives. I go to another brand of church now but it’s not what saves me. I would say it can define where I came from or people I have found who I closely identify with theologically.
Here’s a little church history lesson for you.
If you know anything about the Mennonites and the Catholics, you may know that there has been some tension through the years. The Anabaptist movement was started by some Catholic priests who felt like the State church was in error with some of its teachings, one of them being the priesthood of believers. They taught that people actually could go directly to God with their confessions and did not need an earthly mediator, or a priest, to represent them to God.
I don’t know much about confessional except for what I’ve seen in movies and heard from my Catholic friends. I have been thinking about confession a lot lately. About how God likes when he sees his children walk humbly confessing our sins to each other. Because for me, it seems less intimidating to tell him how wrong I’ve been than admit it to the people I hurt. I know he will forgive me. I know he will not think less of me. But pride makes confession to other people who share DNA a little difficult at times.
Turn the corner with me to the world of the internet where everything can be as surface as we want it to be. In fact, If I wanted to I could make up a new name for myself, or post pictures of my neighbors family, claiming them as mine. I could tell you that I am a professional wrestler or a World Class Goat Farmer…and if you don’t know me personally you may just think that is the truth.
Or maybe we just tell half of the truth. The sunny side of our lives and not the uglier underneath that we don’t really like exposed.
Sometimes I think about that when I Send and receive Christmas letters(Please keep sending them..I DO Love them). You know, the ones that tell us how good Jonny is in school and how awesome Katie is doing in sports. How we have wonderful vacations and how beautiful our homes are. We give the best image of our selves.
I’m just sayin’ it’s natural to want to show the Kodak highlights and leave the “behind the scenes moments out”. You know the ones that we forget to mention like… I often have dishes in my sink overnight, and I don’t get up early enough most mornings which makes us run late and I have to work really hard at being sweet because I mostly hate mornings and I don’t want to send my kids off with a sour taste in their mouth about coming back home in the afternoon . You know, the honest truth of what really happens when no one is watching.
But even more than that..I think there is something good about confessing our wrongdoings to one another. And I think that as a representative of Jesus on earth I better be more aware of my sins and quick to confess.
So today I want to confess to you that even though I feel bad for the poor and sick and hurting, I don’t do near enough to take care of them. Some days I don’t feel like giving anything to anyone except myself and so I am selfish and buy and eat too much. I tell others to be who God has called them to be, but some days I wish I were someone else. I have thoughts that aren’t always honoring to Jesus when I’m driving and someone cuts me off. Sometimes while I try to be fair, I blame my kids wrongly. Some days I don’t feel like apologizing for the pride that I know has crept in. There are times my tongue can work faster than my brain and I regret what is said.
And while you may think followers of Jesus never should do anything bad…because we usually get labeled hypocrites and Pharisees for not always being who we profess to be, you need to know that we are people just like you. And while we say that we love others I am sorry that we have often looked down our noses when you were just trying to belong and we made no place in our lives for you.
We are people who realize we can’t save ourselves because we indeed are the worst of sinners. We are simply people who realize that Jesus is the only one that makes a difference between our life and yours. Just imperfect people who have a place to run when he shows us we have chosen a path of destruction. Travelers who have chosen the road less traveled.
And if you are one of the followers of Jesus that has trouble confessing your attitudes or actions which are not representing him well, maybe these words will give you the confidence to say along with me that we could all be a little less judgmental of others and own our own stuff a little more quickly. We could be more forgiving and less critical if we daily look inside our temple and see our own dirty heart.
We can come to him and ask him to keep changing us to be more honest and humble ambassadors. Confessing to him and asking him to clean up the filth we have once again dragged in. Broken and willing to admit our sinful actions to him and the people we wrong.
We walk blameless not because we are without blame but because Jesus has taken that upon himself. He is mediator, intercessor, forgiver, sacrifice, and Savior. It’s not a cheap freedom. It came with a price. And when I fully embrace that thought it makes me want to be more like him. To know him in ways I never experienced before. To work out in my own life the salvation that he offers freely.
Beyond confession, It inspires me to represent the Jesus of the Bible more authentically to those around me.
1 John 1:9 (New International Version, ©2010)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.