Once in Mr. Kaufman’s 5th and 6th grade combo class I said something really stupid and awkward. I was trying to make sound effects for a movie. I bragged on myself quite a bit; I could not deliver what I promised. I still remember it once and a while and cringe at how dumb I was.
It was almost 20 years ago.
Do you ever do this? Feel guilt for something from high school? Stress about mistakes you made in college? Shrink back as you remember your parents yelling at you for something from ages past and forget that you are an adult now with a car and a job and your own apartment?
I think most of us do.
I’ve come to believe the problem is characteristic of a lack of absolution. We seek confession, but often forget absolution. When something goes wrong, out societal response is to investigate, see what and who messed up. Then we accuse that person. Then that person confesses.
20 years later they still feel like the person who messed up.
I don’t like shoes; I walk around barefoot a lot. Sometimes I walk into a restaurant, forgetting I don’t have shoes on. I don’t mind being told I need to go put on shoes. I do however mind the 3 minute lecture I often receive after I get the shoes.
”Sir, I noticed you aren’t wearing shoes.”
”Oh I’m sorry, I have a pair in my car, I’ll be right back.”
”Yeah, would you get some shoes? We need you to have shoes. It’s because of a state law actually, people have to have shoes on at all times where food is being served. It’s corporate policy that we obey laws in all Burger King locations, so shoes are definitely a must.”
”JUST LET ME GET THE SHOES!!”
…I don’t actually say that; I just want to.
When I come back there is often another lecture waiting. Someone wanting to justify themselves and convince me that I am the wholly guilty one, the one who committed the grave abomination of barefootedness.
But your self-justification deprived me of the opportunity to restore relationship. I never get to hear that it’s okay, I have shoes now, I’m not a 5th grader anymore, my lost Gameboy is obsolete and I can afford a new one. I don’t know I’m forgiven, and it haunts me years later.
This is one of the many reasons that the gospel is so good. Even if you don’t forgive me for saying something insensitive, my heavenly father forgives me. Even if it’s years later and the person from whom I need forgiveness is dead, the person I really need forgiveness from offers it freely.
Confession is a good discipline but absolution is a life giving necessity that all Christians should experience regularly.