Confession Creates Brotherhood
Every time someone new decides to join a house church in our network we sit down with the individual asking to join and talk them through what it’s going to be like. Many people are shocked to hear about our 2’s & 3’s (our small discipleship groups). Usually the shock has nothing to do with the large amount of Scripture we are asking people to read. The shock comes when I begin to lay out the questions we ask each other every week.
What do we ask every week? Questions like “Have you been exposed to any sexually explicit material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about another this week,” and “Have you remained angry at anyone this week?” By the time you get done asking and answering these questions 2 or 3 weeks in a row, you start to get to know someone pretty well.
And that’s part of the point. We practice confession in the midst of our churches because it’s good for us. But the unintended but always present outcome when people are honest is that we become less like strangers and more like family. It reminds me of this quote from theologian Karl Barth:
When we confess our virtues, we are competitors. When we confess our sins, we are brothers.
Isn’t that so true? Bad religion in the human heart will cause all of us to want to look better than one another. True Christianity lived out among us, though, will not only bring humility and confession, but a bond of brotherhood. It’s like John the apostle says in 1 John:
But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
-1 John 1:7-9
It seems so obvious! But we live in such opposition to it! Claiming (or pretending) we have no sin is only fooling ourselves. Confession of sin, first to Jesus and then to others, cleanses us from our sin AND it restores fellowship with Jesus and those around us. Fellowship, true brother and sisterhood, starts as we take off the masks and confess our sins to one another.
Even now in the last few months, I’ve gathered with a few new guys and started confessing my many failings with them. I was fearful and worried that I would be the shameful one in the midst of the group. As things have progressed, not only am I not the only one with sin, but as each of us has opened our hearts to the others, friendships that weren’t there before have formed.
I know you’re in a different spot than I am. But if you’re not living close enough to another brother (if you’re a man, or sister if you’re a girl) to share your sins and pray for another, can I ask that you find someone who is loving and safe and start? Not only will you not feel as alone—but maybe, just maybe!—you might give someone else permission to bring their brokenness into the light and find healing.
It’s worth it.