This is a phrase we do not use that much anymore. We do not want to be too self-conscious because we wouldn’t want to bring an accusation against what the world tells us is wholesome, good, beautiful and needs to be coddled. We wouldn’t want to place ourselves into a state of victim-hood would we? We want to avoid guilt after-all. I have mused that If I was ever the head Pastor of a church that I might consider bringing confession back into the service or offer some kind of booth for it? Not sure what it would look like just yet but here it why.
No, I do not want to close off the idea of forgiveness behind the walls of the church and the folds of the clergy, may it never be! But I do see the need for a return of the sacrament; a place for regular confession.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Might it be that if we had a place for regular confession the Spirit might be able to actually impress upon us his morality? I see a problem in that with our society seemingly casting off of the individual conscience for a desire to “feel” good and avoid being victims we have in a sense lost our true north. In our pursuit of a guilt-free society we have lost our own personal convictions and what we are left with is only an appeal to a social conscience. In other words we rely on how the world trends and their opinions rather than holding to what God has demarcated for his people.
The world was always going to go in their own path. The church shouldn’t be influenced by the world trying to get their morality from her instead of from God’s own Word.
What I am really getting at is penance. With the greater desire to avoid judging and not squashing too many toes we seemingly have the lost the understanding of sin’s offense to God and thus we forget we need any repentance. We are more concerned with being true to ourselves then addressing faults, nobody wants to feel bad. We therefore do not as often practice self-control because we are conviction-less. When this happens we simply reside to the status quo: If I am OK you are OK. If we are all OK we get freedom from an overbearing rule-set and no feathers will be ruffled. But what this looks like is a blurring of lines so that many more people will be caught in the parachute of national-collective morality. If none of us offends, none of us feel bad. Since everything is permissible I will never be shown to be in the wrong and what a wonderful world it will be. But the resulting world has not been so wonderful, has it?
In a desire for absolute freedom, someone was always going to be violated. Because we are all different with different needs and desires. Someones’ wants are always going to conflict with someone else’s. Rather than recognize this and continue to self-govern so we can agree to disagree, we have shifted the focus to a new group and granted them unlimited access to being agreed with. But look around, there is more turmoil, unrest, and fighting it our country than the L.A. riots in the 90’s. National tragedies continue to happen but we are no longer brought together but pushed further and further apart. Without confession we are always looking for who is responsible. More freedom has not resulted in a better country.
I have to admit that I am glad I am Hispanic, because I wouldn’t want to be weighed down by the mountain of white guilt that has been passed around. Has anyone else noticed that with this so-called increased freedom came increased blaming? It goes like this: the majority made up of conservative rich whites have caused all the problems, the sexual problems, the race problems, the political problems, the policing problems and the solution is to continually curb their ability to speak and act freely. They are the problem maybe not always actively but definitely passively. But because nobody can call sin sin, and nobody can own anything themselves, they blame. Either privilege is continually checked or victim-hood is continually touted. This must be so claustrophobic. Beyond this there is so much political-correctness being piled upon our society that nobody can actually speak. Eggshells are crushed with every soft trodden foot.
It seems like very few ideas or solutions are actually sought just short-sighted mandates to keep the masquerade going of identifying aggressors. No one will own anything so the problems must lay elsewhere. But because it is everyone else’s fault there is an “us” versus “them” mentality. This means no room to speak, to respond, no table to come to for deliberation, no breathing room to even process all this, true victims are increasing. The true light is not allowed to shine in our own mirrors so we all must simply agree to fault finding in someone else. But finger pointing is not a solution.
We have the race wars reignited. We have the sexual revolution reignited. We have the gender-bending wars inaugurated. We have the hate the police culture again. We have political fighting at a fever-pitch. We have presidential options that nobody wants and everybody fears. We have the next generation filled with people who believe it is hate speech if anything makes them feel bad. Disagreement means bigotry. We have need for “safe” zones so people can hug-themselves away from the world of contrasting opinions. While the rest work to silence those with other ideas. People care about causes over facts. People in control decide what is hate, they redefine words, and the masses fall in line. People cannot hold any lines for very long because it is possible someone might be offended. There are so many trump-cards (no pun intended) being played that people are left in total bondage.
The only sense of relief is to buy into the system and capitulate. Agree to blame and this fixes something?
So now we agree that it is simply impossible to really distinguish between what is obvious. We don’t know the difference between boys and girls anymore, we barely recognize right and wrong anymore. All because we have fostered such a “Me” mentality that we have thrown off all virtues that would have otherwise buffeted against the individual and taught us to know any better. This double edge sword has not just thrown off restraint but it has made it almost impossible to actually govern. People have gotten what they wanted, and therefore they continue to demand more. When nobody is ever wrong, then peace will never come about. But ask yourself, when people are more concerned with their version of safety and freedom from being hurt, how do you actually deal with those crappy feelings when something still is wrong? The problem with throwing off restraint is that it doesn’t actually do away with violation and pain. Re-configuring blame does not actually relieve anything.
When violation remains with no grid to process right and wrong, people will accept whatever guilt that society gives them because they are not self-governed. When people who naturally do not confess and seek forgiveness, are offered a socially acceptable venue to do so happily take it. Their under-girding conscious rises to the surface when someone actually does give them a set of working societal-shame. They accept it whole-heartedly, because our hearts need confession, but they need a God honoring way to do it.
The freedom to redefine everything and thus re-distribute blame has not brought us utopia. What it has brought us is each others’ throats.
When we remove ideas of right and wrong what do we do with our feelings? When the feelings of violation remain without any real way to address them, without the Gospel, we are left with rage. Rage in the streets, rage in the comments boards, rage against the helplessness of it all. Rage, I think is an apt description of 2016 America.
People are self-medicating their own sinful natures with the guilt offerings of a fallen amoral society. The tragedy is that this awareness means our country is actually ripe for the harvest if the church would only recognize what was going on rather than choosing sides.
This is why I think that confession would be a great help. It the church would lead the way in confession and display that it is not a shameful self-deprecating thing then perhaps the world would witness the true welcoming arms of a forgiving God. It reminds us that we are to forgive others, so that we may be forgiven. It reminds us that forgiveness is a good thing to pursue because it restores relationships. It makes forgiveness possible because we start to view it as restoration rather than guilt management. There is a way to be cleansed from unrighteousness, there is no need for a never-ending circle of privilege/guilt/blame/victimhood being laid upon anyone. Yes there are major problems in our country but we are addressing them all wrong. We can be forgiven and we can be made free, people can be reconciled.
The Spirit is doing his job of convicting the world, but church are we doing our part of pointing them to the solution? Repentance must be taught, it must be modeled by the church. We need to be self-conscious again.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
No this verse is not about America, it is always about the people of God. So let’s start an actual revolution.