Tag Archives: confession

James 5:16…

During New Staff Training for my new CCO job, we have been leading college students through the book of James during a Bible study.  As I was preparing for the Bible Study last night, James 5:16 stuck out to me.  I have been pondering this passage since last night and have a few thoughts.  The passage reads:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (NRSV)

My first thought is this.  I have no desire at all to confess my sins to anybody.  It is hard enough to own up to my sin with God.  There is nothing in me that wants to confess and put myself out there in such a vulnerable way.  And yet there it is.  James is telling us to confess our sins to one another.  I don’t think James is suggesting we blab to everyone about everything we do.  But, I do see the value in having a small group of people in my life that I can confess to and who will pray for me.  If I am honest, I just don’t don’t want to do it.  So then, to use another phrase James uses a couple of times, I am finding that I being “double minded.  In James 4:7-8 we learn the answer to being double minded is to “submit yourselves to God” and to “Draw near to God”.  I guess I have some work to do.

My second thought here is that I am challenged to think about how I pray and what effects the outcome of our prayers.  I am not an expert on prayer, in fact I am left with some questions to ponder.  How might our prayer lives be changed when we are intentional about confession?  How might this change the dynamic of our relationships and our communities?  What might change if we took James seriously in his charge to confess and to one another and pray for one another?

Breaking through to Community…

Confession is not only good for the soul, it is also good for the community.  Bonhoeffer explains the value of confession to the community in Life Together.

In Confession, the break through to community takes place.  Sin demands to have a man by himself.  It withdraws him from the community.  The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous his isolation.  Sin wants to remain unknown.

To be in community is to be known to some degree and our sin rages against this.  Our sin isolates us from those we would be in community because it want us to create walls and build barriers to keep who we really our secret and in so doing keeps us from every having to change our behavior.  The Gospel demands something entirely from us.  It seeks confession and full disclosure.  It shuns the idea of hiding, preferring  instead vulnerability and authenticity.  The Gospel provides us with a choice: to continue to live in sin and therefore isolation or to choose full disclosure and community.  Our natural inclination is to fear confession and vulnerability.  Its frightening to imagine placing our trust in another, but in order to build a stronger life together, we must find the courage to confess to the Father in and through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We must also find the courage to confess to one another so that we remove ourselves from isolation and into relationship and accountability.  No easy task for any of us, but nothing Jesus asks of us is ever easy…its just right.