Mike Gerhardt, 12-27-20, Confession Is Healing, James 5:14-20. Confession has a purpose. Frank Warren created postsecret.com where people send postcard secrets to be put up for all the world to see. Within 7 months he had 2000 secrets posted. I do not recommend the site for some of the secrets are NSFW or R rated. Most express politically incorrect ideas, some detail abuses, or body image issues. Some are sad. This one I found funny: I always want to be home for Christmas but soon I wish I was at someone else’s home. Others confess a wide range of emotions like I don’t care about recycling, but I pretend I do. Another simply states I miss feeling close to God. Warren states: At times, we believe we are keeping a secret, but it can be just as true that the secret is keeping us. Confession is important especially in rightly relating to others. We were made for others. Life is a shared journey. From the day we were born, we are here to share life with others. This does not mean we must be married with children, but it does mean we must be active in building relationships with others. Our faith journey is a shared journey. There are times when we try to help, and we mess things up. We don’t want to confess. There is this scene from the Polar Express where everyone has enjoyed some hot chocolate on the train and the girl hero has taken an extra cup for the lonely boy in the caboose let us watch. Scene 1.
Haven’t we all done what the boy did? In an attempt to help, he messed up. Later, the glare of the conductor triggers the moment of truth. So much could go wrong. The boy could keep his mistake a secret. The girl could explode with anger. The conductor could throw them both off the train. Confession brings healing. Charles Utley of San Diego discovered a swollen bump on his backside after having surgery. He soon found out that his surgeon left a sponge behind while sewing him up. Rachel Zimmerman reported in the Wall Street Journal: Even when doctors make mistakes, they customarily refuse to admit it, lest they encourage patients to sue. It is called defend and deny. But Utley’s doctor was different, the surgeon told him: I was responsible, I apologize for this. Utley did not sue the doctor because he honored me as a human being. Did you know the Bible talks about confession and forgiveness as a way for healing? In our James passage, there are three things I want us to see: confess to the elders your illness so that they can pray; confess your sins to each other so that you may be healed and restored; confess to turn your friend from sin, and you will save them from death and cover their sins. James wrote to his Jewish friends concerning practical holiness and spiritual maturity. He wanted to stir the hearts of his brothers with these five things: stand with confidence, serve with compassion, speak with care, submit with contrition, and share with concern. These last two involve confession and confrontation. This brings spiritual and physical healing through practical holiness.
1 John 1:8-10: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. We see examples of confession in Luke 5:8 Peter confessed: I am a sinful man, 15:21 prodigal son: father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. 18:13 the tax collector: he beat his breast and said, God, have mercy on me a sinner. Confession has several elements, here are three: a recognition of the holiness of God, the conviction of the sinfulness of self, and the realization of the need for confession. If we stop at any point, we fail to come clean, to be restored, to be forgiven. Sometimes I am driven to tell someone of my wrongdoing, to tell the real truth about what I did, to not stay silent about my mistake. These impulses, convictions. and motivations to do what is right, come from a power beyond me: The Holy Spirit.
John 16:5-11 Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt about sin, righteousness, and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; & about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Conviction of sin is the beginning, which leads to confession which brings healing. Whether we confess to a friend, to the person hurt by our sin, or to God who can bring the healing, we must confess. The last step in the process is to commit to change. This is where we usually falter.
Scene 2 from the film. Remember the boy’s honesty. Here is the girl forgiving and the conductor lets them stay on board. Kindness disarms the conflict. On our life journey, we long for such companions, such kindness, such forgiveness. And we find it sometimes in the church where we should expect it. People in churches still make mistakes. Like the boy, we lose things: perspective, direction, even our tempers. When the church acts as God intended, forgiveness overcomes, and the journey together continues. Remind your friends and family: this journey is best made with others. We are not meant to be here alone. One of our constant companions is Jesus. Hebrews 10:19-25 (the lettuce package) Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, … let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Being together, traveling together takes honesty. We need to confess to each other. Being together like this causes tension and even hurt. That is why love should always be in great supply. Amen.