Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Confession, the Pathway Home

Confession has a bad rap.

It conjures up images of an old white-bearded man pointing a long bony figure at us snarling "repent!" Or the apprehension of a small child entering a small dark closet and whispering the words, "Bless me father for I have sinned." It is the dread of being exposed and seen with our hands dirtied with our most heinous deed. It is the anxious anticipation of your dad's scream, mom with the wooden spoon, or sitting in the principal's office.

That is not God's view of confession. Proverbs 28:13 tell us, Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. James 5:16 has even a better promise, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Mercy and healing are the sweet fruit of confession.

Jesus paints an even more delightful picture in the story of the prodigal son. The son leaves home, takes his inheritance, and makes a series of reckless choices. He finds himself homeless, hungry and surrounded by swine. It is there that the scriptures tells us he came to his senses. He confesses his sin and in that turning point, he starts on his way home. The son expects punishment.

However, there is no punishment waiting for the lost son who returns to his father, only an embrace of love, tears of joy. The father summons his servants to bring the sandals, robe and ring. The servants knew immediately right where to find these precious items that would restore the wayward boy to full son-ship. Why? Because the father always had them at the ready, waiting only for the son to return to him.

There is no punishment waiting for us either when we confess. God is not waiting to give us penance, as if a few prayers or acts of contrition could erase our sin. No, Jesus paid it all, it is finished, completed, accomplished. Our restoration waits for us to receive it, if we would only come home.

At Aunt Tillie and Uncle George's beach house there was
always a celebration! 
And then there is the party because the father is ecstatic to have his son home. The father instructs the servants: Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Confession is the privilege of God's children. It is the vehicle for God's mercy, His healing, His celebration. God the Father invites us  His children to come to Him to confess, so that we can be restored.  Because that is what the Father desires, for us to come home, sit at His table, enjoy His presence.

Confession is our pathway home.

To read the entire story of the prodigal son, see Luke 15:11-32.

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