A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend the New Room Conference with our leadership team. New Room’s mission is to sow for a Great Awakening during our lifetime. As they spoke to us about revivals in the past, a clear theme emerged: revivals are always accompanied by repentant hearts and the confession of sins.
This makes sense. In James 5:16 we are told to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James tells us confession leads to healing. By confessing our sins aloud to other people, we are able to catch a glimpse of God’s unconditional love as our brothers and sisters in Christ meet us with that same love and pray over us. We are reminded of the freedom we have in Jesus and are empowered to live it out. We are healed.
I have found this not only to be true in theory but also in practice. I have also found that in spite of that, confession is still something that terrifies me. Even when I know I will be met with love and compassion, I still fear being condemned and rejected. As a result, I find myself hiding from the very thing I know I need.
I do not think I am alone in this. After all, the lack of authenticity and open brokenness in the church is not some under the radar topic. We know the church is supposed to be a place of love, comfort, and healing. Yet it seems to be the place where people mask their shortcomings the most. Instead of confessing their sin and brokenness, people try their hardest to convince everyone they’re perfect.
The strange part of this is that it does not seem to be rooted in the experience of being condemned but rather the fear of being condemned. We are convinced if those in the church knew what we have done, we would not be loved. And while there have absolutely been painful and heartbreaking moments of people being judged for confiding their failings, these pale in comparison to the moments in which genuine and redeeming love has been extended. We know this. But it still seems we live under a controlling fear of being looked down upon.
Maybe this does not come from how the people of the church have treated us but rather the voice of the deceiver. He tells us our sin is too much for others to want to be around us. He tells us if other people knew what we had done or experienced, we would be rejected.
Maybe we as the church do not fail in meeting people with love; maybe we just fail in not extending it unprompted as much as we should.
Martin Luther, when speaking of how we are saved by faith alone because of God’s unconditional love for us, stated we must “know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.” When we do not speak the truth of the Gospel constantly to those around us, we give room for the voice of the deceiver to enter the silence.
The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Too often we hold off on encouraging others until we feel it is desperately needed. The reality is we all desperately need encouragement all of the time.
If we want to live authentically, if we want to see and experience unconditional love, if we want to see the church be the place of life change we want it to be, we must all encourage one another constantly. We must hammer the Gospel into one another’s heads so we are reminded of the freedom we have in Christ. In Him, there is no condemnation and it is when we believe this that we will confess our sins and be healed. So, let us preach the Gospel to one another all the more, reminding one another of the love God has for us and the love we have for each other.
– Mark Owens
Associate Director of Student Ministries