the (w)hole in our confession

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind & strength
Love your neighbour as you…
Love your self.

Love of God, neighbour and self are all interwoven.  I’ve been thinking lately about confession, which – like love – occurs in relationship.  Protestants often are quick to give reasons why they don’t confess to a priest like Catholics.  “Through Christ, we can confess [but do we!?] directly to God…”  Fair enough.  But one thing about confession to a priest is that at least they are confessing horizontally as well as vertically.

I may be wrong, but I suspect that Protestants are not that great at horizontal confession.  When we do it, we often only confess the really easy-to-confess stuff.  “Oh, I just have to be honest with you… I’ve allowed myself to get too busy this week.”  In the ModWest, being busy is a virtue, for crying out loud – that’s hardly confession…  Rarely do we [OK… I!!] have a) the courage, and b) the quality of relationship to confess the darkest, deepest, hardest-to-confess stuff.

My theory is that our vertical confession is at least complimented (and, at most, completed!?) by our horizontal confession.  I reckon it can be all too easy to create a ‘god’ that suits our (vertical) confessional needs; that responds to our confession with just the perfect amount and flavour of gentleness, assurance, anger, frustration or whatever makes us feel better – which is too often the reason for doing it anyway…

Confession, like love, is meant to be so holistically real that it touches all of our person – our emotions (heart), our identity (soul), our thoughts (mind) and our actions (strength).  May we be truly honest, real and vulnerable in our confession – vertically to God, horizontally to our close, trusted friends, and even internally to ourselves!!

Confess to the Lord, with all your heart, soul, mind & strength
Confess to your neighbour as you…
Confess to yourself.

One reply on “the (w)hole in our confession”

Dale, thanks always for your challenging and thought provoking posts!

I read the following story recently and think it applies…

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia during the mid-1700s, once toured a Berlin prison. As he entered one large, lower dungeon of the prison, a group of prisoners–about a dozen in all–fell on their knees before him. “Have mercy on us, Your Majesty!” they pleaded. “We are innocent! We have been falsely imprisoned!”

“All of you are innocent?” asked the king, surprised.

“Yes!” they insisted, every last man.

Then King Frederick noticed a man who stood off by himself in a dark corner of the dungeon. “You there,” said the king, “Why are you in this prison?”

“I was convicted of armed robbery, Your Majesty.”

“Are you guilty?”

The man hung his head. “Yes, Your Majesty. Guilty and ashamed. I deserve to be in this place.”

“Guard!” King Frederick called. “Guard! See that man in the corner? Take him out of here and release him at once!” Then, indicating the dozen men who had claimed to be unjustly imprisoned, he said, “I will not have these fine, innocent men corrupted by one guilty wretch!”

It isn’t our pretense of goodness, but our open and honest confession of sin which sets us free!

“Confess your faults to one another,” James 5:16, “and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.”

I’m confessing…

You are dearly loved!

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