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25 July 2010

Is the Church Singing the Right Words? Part Three

Picking up from where I left off a couple of weeks ago, here's a third "lyric" that we often sing, having mistaken the words:

Misheard lyric #3:

What happens in my life is nobody else’s business. God knows where I am.

Original lyric (James 5:16):
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
(Funny how the misheard lyric sounds nothing at all like the original lyric, much like the line from More Than a Feeling: "Just living it up on the world." / "'Till I see Mary Ann walk away.")

Thanks to society, in which it's overly important to feel self-worth, we value our lives as individuals. We never want to air our dirty laundry to people. It’s very natural to want to deal with our own problems ourselves – “Just me and the Lord.”

However, as author and organic church teacher Frank Viola has mentioned, the Church is an organism -- a form of life -- that is alien to this planet. As such, many of the things that are common to the world should be foreign to the Church. One of the traits that's often foreign to the world is openness with one another.

James 5:16 (NLT):
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Galatians 6:1 (NLT):
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are Godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

If you actually do what these verses say, you're probably in the minority. These practices, necessary in the community of believers, are terribly abnormal for us. I don’t even think we hear these truths taught very much. We confess our sins to GOD, right? Not to each other. But Scripture directly states that we’re to confess our sins to one another. We're to pray for each another for healing -- for curing -- from those sins. We're to help one another back onto the right path, and we're to do all this without condescension.

Why don't we confess our sins to each other? I have several hypotheses. Here are a few:

  • We don't want to admit that we're not the super-strong Christian that people think we are
  • We don't want anyone to gossip about our sin (our churches are full of people who honestly have no intention of living as faithful servants of Christ, and this is a valid concern)
  • We don't know the people in our church fellowship well enough to feel comfortable sharing
  • It's too Catholic.
Why do you think we don't make a practice of confessing our sins to one another?

How do you think we can change this?


Karen said...

I think part of the answer to your question lies in your third hypothesis: We don't know the people in our church fellowship well enough to feel comfortable sharing. I believe we are afraid of being rejected if we are real with others, that they will not accept us if they really knew us... sins, warts, and all. First off, we have to truly believe in the importance of confession. Just as a dr. needs a diagnosis to treat a sickness, if we don't name our sins, we cannot be healed from them. Then we have to find fellow believers who are safe, who will not use our confession as a way to wield power over us, but who come alongside us in our brokenness to bring us through to the other side. These are folks who care for our spiritual well-being as much as their own. It's not always easy, but it makes a difference. I find that many times when I am in a place where I may be saying I'm dealing with my problems "just me and the Lord," I'm really not. It's only when I can get real with another person that the healing really begins.

Dean Lusk said...

I tend to agree with that answer the most. (And sorry it's taken me so long to respond here.)

This passage comes to mind, and might raise eyebrows in this context:

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.
And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

- 1 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT)

Do you see where I'm going with that?

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