I’ve been listening to Matt Chandler (http://www.thevillagechurch.net/) and really like not only what he says, but how he says it. There’s passion and reverence and deep logical thought behind his messages. In his message to pastors at Advance ’09 (Video), he talks about how he and the staff at The Village are working to create what he calls a “culture of confession.” He goes on to describe a place where people are open about the dark places and struggles in life.
This is nothing short of amazing because Christians are notoriously wicked when dealing with another’s mistakes. This is, by my estimation, one of the greatest hurdles the Church has to overcome. The minute we see someone stumble and judge them with condemnation, that’s the minute we expose our own dark heart, and more profound, our gross lack of understanding of what was done for us via the Cross. Do you see the irony and hypocrisy?
So, what are the elements needed for people to be willing to talk openly and honestly about the anguish of being a depraved man serving a holy God?
- Humiliy | We all are completely unable to reach God on our own. It isn’t our worst that separates us from God, it is our best. The very best we can do is nothing more than rubbish to Him. Let us not forget our place.
- Confidence | God holds us in His hands, yet we allow man to hold us captive with approval ratings and external appearances. That’s silly nonsense. Why should we cower to what man thinks when the God of the universe saw fit to send His Son for us. Look over your shoulder and you’ll see the Big Man standing there – He has your back, now move forward.
- Community | One thing we all have in common is our natural separation from God – i.e. our innate propensity to do evil. Why should it be a surprise when we make mistakes? How can we be disappointed? Because we worship the person and not the God inside them.Let us both recognize that is only by His grace that we aren’t dead because of our depravity and just how special He is to have reached down and pulled us from the muck. Love is the theme of the Bible – let us make it he hallmark of our lives.
- Courage | Sharing your junk out loud is hard for two reasons: 1) We fear how the judgment of our peers 2) We don’t want to hear the words out loud – to give a voice to our sin. The paradox is that by doing this with one another is the first step on the path to freedom. What we think can only kill us will actually give us life and make the love of God much more tangible.
What emotions are stirred in you when you hear about a husband cheating on his wife? Or a teenage girl getting pregnant out of wedlock? Or a pastor sent to jail for possession of meth? How would you feel if those emotions were directed at you?
The bottom line is this: our willingness to love and cry for the sinner is directly proportional to our love for God. It is also directly related to our love for the lost.
Lord, may I not pretend to be you by judging in my heart another man’s life. May you break my heart for my brother. May you give me the courage to be a catalyst for confession by trusting you with my heart and my future. And may your love for me spill over into every decision I make.