IT IS WRITTEN (NEHEMIAH)
THE FREEDOM OF CONFESSION
PART III: GRACE ILLICITS CONFESSION
 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
(Nehemiah 9:31 ESV)
All throughout the people’s prayer to God in Nehemiah 9, they are consumed by His grace. Overwhelmingly there is an acknowledgment of Him doing the verbs: You saw the affliction of our fathers…. You divided the sea…. You led them….You came down to them….you made known to them…. You gave them…..you told them….But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” Oh His compassion is everlasting, and no matter what you’ve done, Christian or Non-Christian, He has forgiven you through trust in Jesus Christ.
Recently I googled “Confession” websites. I found hundreds of different sites dedicated to giving people a place to confess their sins. Here’s a couple samples:
- I have three wonderful children, and a man who loves me. Yet most days I think of running away. I love my family, but so often i feel trapped in a life I have control over. I care for them all without fail, and while I love what I am, I feel like I could be so much more! The guilt kills me, but I can’t help what I feel. Am I a horrible person.
- “I’m addicted to pain pills. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on my habbit. My tolerence is so high that I now take 4 80mg oxycotin, or 10 methadone tablets plus 6 10mg percocets. It wasn’t to long ago that I screwed up really bad, and not paying attention to how high I was, I nearly died. The thing is, I don’t want to give up my habbit at any cost. Even my own death. For someone who does as much as I do, you would barely know it to look at me, except on occasion where I start nodding out. I’m connective, I speak pretty well, the only tell tale sign is the pin point pupils, and the green eyes, which are normally blue. I don’t want to stop, ever. But in my heart I do hold an enormous guilt to what it’ll do to my mom, my brother, my friends that love me, if next time I slip up to severe, I don’t make it back. And guilt to God, for needing an out from a life I can’t stand to live, but don’t dare to end.
- I cannot accept myself for being a lesbian. I hate myself. I hate my life.
These people write because they have to get it out. They’re built that way by the God who created them, and yet they have no God to go to, so they anonymously confess their sins to the air, to a computer screen of imaginary data bits! How sad, how painfully sad is this!
And yet as I read this, I’m so utterly aware of the fact that this is a result of the Church not doing its job. Why? Because instead of the Church being a safe-haven for sinners in need, a hospital for the sick, a place to get healed by the Great Physician, we’ve made it into a place where the people that have things figured out go. We’ve made it the place where you must dress nicely, and act nicely, and smile and don’t make a scene. In perousing these sites, I was reminded of a story Philip Yancey shared some years ago in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace:
A prostitute came to me (a friend of Yancey’s working in inner city Chicago) in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two year old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter- two years old!- to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her won drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable- I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman. At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naïve shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”
You know what I’d love to see? I’d love to see Pimps and Prostitutes sitting in the pew, saved and being redeemed by the blood of the Lamb…. And in that pew over there I’d like to see someone whose struggled with heroin addiction their whole life, right next to a person that’s never struggled with drugs, but still struggles with a temper, who both love Jesus. I’d like to see a Church where gay men and women can attend, knowing that as they struggle to say no to their desires,in service to Jesus, they will not be pushed away, but encouraged along the way. I want to see proud religious Pharisees sitting in that pew, and I want to see judgmental people, and goody goodies sitting next to former gang members all united by one thing: The grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Lord thy Kingdom come, thy will be done!
Soli Deo Gloria,