This morning on the news I heard a report about on-line confessionals. Interesting. Go on line and post your sin.
You know, due to the Roman Catholic teaching that one must confess one's sins to a priest, we have tended to knee-jerk (as is too often our response to issues). We proclaim that you can confess your sins directly to the Lord. And that is, at least on the surface, true. Yet Scripture tells us to confess our sins to one another (James 5: 16) and then to pray for one another. For the last 150 years, that has pretty much been done by walking down the aisle during the "invitation," and filling out a card that says, "I have sinned. Please forgive me." Then an elder or a minister reads the person's "confession" -- followed by something like, "Well, brother, we all sin."
I think that James is calling us to something more. He is calling us to accountability and community. Yes, I can receive forgiveness of my sin as I confess it to the Father. But when I share my sin (and my struggle) with others, there is an accountability that comes with that. And if those to whom I confess really care about me, they are going to journey with me through it.
This is why the most successful treatment of alcohol / drug abuse / sexual addiction is not found in prescription drugs or even treatment centers. It is found in AA and programs like that. ACCOUNTABILITY. We need it in our lives. And I like what I see happening in churches. When a person comes forward with a sin struggle, it's not as likely that he or she will simply say, "I have sinned," followed by a prayer -- and then off to Luby's. And then that person is fodder for the gossip mill for a while.
Rather, people are coming looking for help. And more and more I see fellow strugglers pulling up beside them to be with them through it. Here in Decatur, I see the majority of the church embracing that person (and I don't mean just after the service -- I'm talking about where he lives) instead of shunning him or her. it is a beautiful thing. It is a Christlike thing. It is church.