Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The fear of being transparent

It's been awhile since I posted a post re: church stuff....Hopefully my non-churched readers don't find this offensive - but, I stick to the "my blog, my material" pretense ;-)

So, back to the title - the fear of being transparent.

This fear is alive and well in all of American society, but ironically so in Christian churches.

Call me a revolutionary or whatever, but if churches are full of sinners, reformed or otherwise, don't you think we'd heave a huge sigh of relief and freely share - since everyone is just as plagued by sin as the other?

Even the Bible points us toward practicing confession....repeatedly

- As a means to prepare for Christ : Matthew 3:4 John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

- With each other : James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

- And, with the Lord Himself : 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, [then] he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The implications of those last two send chills up my spine. They are conditional.

Confess sin so that you may be healed.... Let's do a linguistic exercise here....let's negate the sentence's condition. [Do not] confess sin so that you may [not] be healed.

And (in best aerobic instructor voice), let's wrap our minds about that again, If we confess our sins, [then] He is faithful and just and will forgive and purify us... How does that look when we negate it? If we [do not] confess our sins, [then] He.... will [not] forgive and purify us....

And yet, I cannot recall the last time someone 1.) came forward at the end of my church's service to do this, or 2.) approached me to confess and pray with them.

I can recall the last time I've done both. This is not to toot my own horn, but to give credibility to my questions here. Last January, I walked up the aisle of my church, with legs of leaden weight, shoulders hunched over, consumed with sorrowful sobs wracking my entire body. As the elders came forward to talk with me, I barely could get it out. I'd entered a depression.

Wait a minute, stop the presses - Depression is NOT a character flaw - that's not SIN!

Just roll with it, okay? I will wrap that all up in a nice, tidy little package soon enough.

Back to the confession....Because I was winning a losing battle at depression, our finances had gotten wretchedly botched up (yeah, I wear that hat here too), my kids had a Mommy Dearest who was ready to go off the deep end at any little thing, and quite honestly - I'd gotten to where I didn't want to live anymore. I knew I needed help, and Charlie Brown, bless his heart, was not sufficient for this cause. God had me rally my troops - via confession. And wouldn't you know it, I got to a doc, was put on meds, and the church bolstered us through the icky situational factors. (This is of course, the VERY condensed version) I received healing as a result of my confession. It is the darndest thing when the Word we say we trust, actually comes to pass - almost as if we didn't totally believe it til we tested it.

For weeks afterward, friends from church told me how much they "admired" my "transparency," and would ask how it's so "easy" for me? People say that, but is it just lip service? Where is the action of such a statement - because it isn't seen in sitting comfortably in the pew on Sunday.

Ok....this is turning out to be longer than I thought it would....looks like a part 2 type post, but let me leave you with this thought:

With regard to confession being "easy" for me - It's no easier for me than anyone else, but if I can't be transparent with other human beings, mere mortals who are equally as flawed as I am, then how in the world am I going to be transparent with the God who created the universe? Who knows all, is totally, 100% perfect and Divine, but still wants to hear me say, "I goofed - take me back?" Confessing to my brothers and sisters is just practicing for the real deal........

To be continued....