Monday, March 15, 2010


Showing Sin Light

Church Matters wrote about "The Gospel and the Truth About You":
We should all be growing in our understanding of the gospel. Over the past five years in pastoral ministry, the Lord has been teaching me about the liberating power of the gospel: it frees us to admit that truth about us.

I am blown away by how many Christians (myself included) want to live in denial, desperately hiding the sins and struggles that would make us look bad. Even if we're not aware of it, we often think something like, "If people knew the truth about me, then they would reject me and judge me. If I admitted the truth about myself to myself, I would have to feel guilt and shame."

Now think about how much damage is done in marriages, in churches, between parents and children, when people won't own their guilt and ask for forgiveness.
After setting up the problem in this way Michael McKinley quotes Alfred Poirier:
In response to my sin, the cross has criticized me more intensely, deeply, pervasively, and truly than anyone else ever could. This knowledge permits us to say to all other criticism of us: "This is just a fraction of it."... If the cross says anything, it speaks about my sin.
and Tim Keller:
The gospel gives you psychological freedom to handle the wrong things that you will do. You won’t have to deny, spin, or repress the truth about yourself. These things don’t make it impossible to know who you are. Only with the support of hearing Jesus say, “You are capable of terrible things, but I am absolutely, unconditionally committed to you,” will you be able to be honest with yourself.
in response.

My initial response to this was that it was a great thing - A discussion of good old confession "in disguise" as psychobabble. Then I was struck by the self-centeredness of it, confession not as a means of reconciling with God, but as a means to self-realization. Of course, is that really that different than confession as a means of staying out of hell? The answer, of course, is "not really."

But then the question arises, "Which language choice more readily lets us come to understand that it is not about us, it is about God." In one approach the end result is to "fell good about ourselves." I the other approach we move from being a sinner to being a forgiven sinner. In one approach we can say, "See that wasn't so bad." In the other we can say, "Thank you God that your love exceeds my awfulness."

Or is this just the psychological approach to deep true confession - a means of overcoming the natural barriers we have to it? But should not confession be a matter of discipline, not a matter of getting ourselves in the right frame of mind to do it? Is there not deep value in the shame and guilt we feel as it lets us discover the immensity of God's love.

Maybe I should just be grateful that given the state of the church today someone is talking about anything that approaches confession and stop nit-picking the details to death. Yeah, that's probably the ticket - baby steps.

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