Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

God Hides in Plain Sight 4


Do you practice confession? Do you know the power of forgiveness and grace and reconciliation? Why are these terms so challenging?
This is what Dean Nelson in God Hides in Plain Sight: How to See the Sacred in a Chaotic World  explores the theme of confession and reconciliation and forgiveness, beginning with a movie I’ve never heard of and then exploring his own need to forgive the fundamentalist college he attended in college. He still has friends from that college. One friend put it this way: “Dean. That was decades ago. The rest of us have moved on,” he said. “Even the school has.” Recently the school gave him an award, and he felt reconciled when he put it all behind him.
Do you have some things to put behind you? A job? a relationship? an event? Anyone have a story to tell about confession and forgiveness?

Confession to God or to others is to tell the truth, God’s truth, about ourselves. It is to be open to God’s evaluation and God’s mercy. One reason we don’t want to confess is because we are afraid of grace’s power to heal and transform.

He tells the story of being with a friend when he admitted his financial struggles; Dean was offered a gift; he didn’t want it … but in accepting it began to experience grace.
He once wrote about his neighbor; his neighbor found out; he was in trouble — they were in trouble. So, out of grace and the hope of reconciliation, Dean’s wife made some bread, they went next door, knocked and a door of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation was opened.
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posted October 9, 2009 at 6:47 am

Interesting post. It touches on a number of aspects of confession and reconciliation. Reconciliation or attempted reconciliation with a person one has offended or wronged is relatively easy – in this fashion I have, at times, practiced “confession.”
But confession goes beyond this – to accountability and community. Bonhoeffer emphasized the importance of confession in his “Life Together.” This was the aspect of his book that made the largest impression on me. But it is still hard to find a way to put it into practice.
Interestingly it was not until I “confessed” to a couple others that I struggle at time with doubts and questions that I was able to start to move forward in faith.

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posted October 9, 2009 at 8:33 am

I reached out to a friend a few months ago after a conversation in which I expressed myself left her not speaking to me for over a year. I finally called her to apologize for any offense that I caused. She thanked me, but the relationship hasn’t changed. I decided that if it were meant for us to pick up the pieces and move on with our relationship, God would have to do it. I wasn’t going to force it. So, I offered the apology, which I felt compelled to do. Asking for forgiveness does not always guarantee acceptance by the other party and it doesn’t always mean that relationships will be restored to their pre-offense state. However, my conscience is clear and I realize that sometimes relationships do end. People sometimes grow apart, but at least I have a clear conscience having apologized for any wrongdoing on my part. I also recently apologized to a staff member after verbally attacking them in a meeting. They said it was not necessary, but again, I felt compelled that it was what I was supposed to do, and so I did in front of those who were present for the verbal assault. I felt such an emotional release afterwards. So, again, it’s not always about the reception or opinion of others. It’s always, I think, about you and your relationship with Christ. If we’re to live at peace with all men, then that becomes the reason for forgiveness and confession, not the outcome.

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posted October 9, 2009 at 12:02 pm

For those that know me here, I’ll mention that this topic matters to me even more than the charismatic activity I’ve discussed here. To me, it’s all about God’s healing mission, and this kind of activity is critical to healing the cracks in ourselves and others. I really recommend that all Christians go through the 12 steps (with someone else) for this process/skill alone. At least half the steps are devoted to confession and making amends, bit by bit (the pace of which really, really helps).
The global recovering community would all testify that being unable or unwilling to helpfully deal with our own wrongs and those we’ve wronged is an addiction’s favorite shackle. Confession/reconciliation is a legitimate and undervalued sacrament, arguably more important than any other form of worship according to Jesus, and the recovery groups are the ones mining it for all it’s worth! Churches!! Follow the pathetic ones you taught to confess and make amends!! If only we’d follow Jesus’ teaching on this 1/10 of the time we gather for worship, and be reconciled to anyone we’ve wronged before we bring any other gifts to God, the church and the world would be palpably better.
I could go on, but I’ll mention that for me personally both my marriage and my relationship to my father improved when I made amends for my wrongs, even for things that were years old. As many 12-steppers will tell you, few people can do this (really confessing all we need to and making amends) solo. If you want to do this, I recommend getting an experienced partner in the process. 12-steppers and Catholic priests are common places to start.
Scot, by the way, when I was looking for some help from Christian perspective for working the steps, you had just returned from meeting with Trevor Hudson and others in South Africa. Your high praise of his character led me to Google him. I found out that he had authored One Day at a Time, which he wrote as one who works the steps even though not plagued with any of the typical addictions. It became and still is my favorite tool for working the steps myself and introducing that way of life to Christians.

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