We are Confessors.
We gather at every Ekklesia to “confess”. Scripture says in the book of James, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” We are instructed to confess in order to live in unity and to live out our wholeness.
How do we get to a place where we can do this honestly and with less anxiety?
Make this a common practice - consistent.
We need to meet, pray, confess, eat, laugh, cry… often. Make it a part of our lives.
Make this a common practice - endurance.
We need to commit to long term gatherings. Take a deep breath and know that transformation for yourself and for others does not always happen so quickly. Be patient and enjoy the gatherings for what they are - a place to practice love, community, confession, edification, editing, trust…
“It’s a long, long road… growth is to help (so and so) to gradually discover that she is loved. That means hundreds and hundreds of meetings, it’s what I would call, The Sacrament of Meeting. It’s a long road to growth.“- Jean Vanier
What is Proper Christian Confession and Sharing?
Often I find that as we share we are often simply complaining or whining. I also find that when we share we are not committed to change, rather we enjoy the feeling of “venting” and letting out something heavy within us or bothering our conscience. And of course, if and when we do share it’s often used to shape an image of ourselves that is not as bad or even to help promote an idea that we are greater than what we really are. For example, “I really struggle with giving too much of my money away. I should learn to save a bit more.” We end up thinking one of two things; wow, what a BS of a person or wow, I struggle with so much more, this person is a saint.
“When we confess our virtues, we are competitors. When we confess our sins, we are brothers.” - Karl Barth
And finally, confessions can often lead to a sense of victimization and self pity (a narcissistic endeavor). Have you taken a picture and when time to edit the picture in order to post, you find that you are only looking at yourself and how you turned out? This is what we do sometimes in our sharing. It’s simply all about us, how we’ll look, and how we’ll turn out in the end. We share so we can grow and become better versions of ourselves. It’s a popular Christian teaching, isn’t it?
But I find that Jesus is not very interested in making better versions of our lives. He seems intent on destroying it. He seems interested only in what we do with our resurrected lives. (see, Luke 9)
"Christianity is not something you add. Christianity is more like an explosion that destroys everything you have to make way for something new.” - Tim Keller, Greed: The Case of the Rich Young Ruler
So how can we save our confessions from becoming a Narcissistic Endeavor?
Are you sharing with the Cross in Mind?
Jesus commanded us to take up our crosses daily. Proper Christian “sharing” in our meetings is one that is committed to the process of dying to oneself. This takes humility. Therefore, we don’t simply share our stories and thoughts, when we share, we are professing our commitment to die to this or that way of thinking or living. Sharing then becomes one of the first disciplines in the art of dying to self in order to live the resurrected life.
Often our hopes are that when we share, we hope to be able to adjust, grow, bend and maybe have the community of confessors help us in our efforts to get the best out of this life. But I find Mr. Jon Foreman’s lyrics hauntingly true and prophetically clear in light of what we’re discussing here.
“All along I thought I was learning how to take. How to bend not how to break. How to live not how to cry. But really I’ve been learning how to die. I’ve been learning how to die” - Jon Foreman, Learning How to Die
Are you sharing with Christ in Mind?
When sharing with Christ in Mind, we are acknowledging that He is the author and finisher of our faith. In remembering this as we share, we are practicing the art of repentance. When we share, we invite the community to edit us according to what was written and said by God. We don’t simply ask for input, opinions, and suggestions. When we share properly, we are inviting the faithful to help edit our stories so that it looks more and more like the story God would write. The Church, along with the individual, becomes co-editors in the stories God is writing in and through each of us. Christian sharing then is the commitment to change to better align our stories to God’s desires, commands and ways.
“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.” - Jean Vanier
Are you sharing with the Church in Mind?
When we share with the Church in mind, we are recalling the fact that our individual lives actually matters to our tribe. When sharing you are declaring that the health of the Body is important and that you understand that you are a part of that Body. So the good and the bad that is happening in or to you effects the rest of the Body. Christian sharing can be likened to the reasons why our cells in our bodies communicate. I doubt that the cells in our bodies are communicating for “fellowship” purposes. Although fellowship is a high value in the Church, the reasons for communication I believe are more primal. They communicate in order to survive, in order to stay in harmony. It asks for back up, for help, he seeks to help each other, it’s aim is to keep the person alive and strong. When we practice proper Christian sharing and confession, our aim is much like the goal of the cell; keep the larger Body healthy and to look for ways to help each other, stick together, and harmoniously achieve the greater mission.
(See, 1 Corinthians Chapters 6 & 12, see also the story of Achan in Joshua 7)
Let’s Practice This Every Time We Gather in the Name of Jesus
So when you gather again for Ekklesia, or for that matter, any Ekko gathering or with any Christian brother or sister, practice the art of Christian Sharing. Do not use your tongue and words for narcissistic purposes or for the tearing down of others or for slander and gossip. Instead, use it with the Cross, our Christ, and the Church in mind. I know you’ll have another wonderful gathering with the saints. Go for it, have fun, and let’s really live this resurrected life we have in Christ!
The Sacrament of Meetings