By Carol McClain: @carol_mcclain
We invited friends over to the house at the last minute. I looked over my home and knew I only had time for what I called "lies and deceptions." I had to clean, but a real cleaning wouldn't happen. The fake one would have to do.
I ran a dust rag over the furniture. Vacuumed fast. Shoved dirty pans in the oven. Closed the door to my study. I was set.
Of course, my house wasn't clean, but my image was.
If my friends opened the closed door, if they checked the oven or looked in a cabinet, they'd find how truly awful I was.
Sort of like sin in our lives.
We confess to God but hide our weakness from our peers. If they really knew our neurosis--like sitting up all night knowing the little lump on our calf was not from hitting the end table, but a ravenous cancer--they'd think us mentally deranged, lacking faith. Maybe we're hiding our disinterest in worship or of Bible study in fear they'd think we're not spiritual. Perhaps our bursts of anger would make them question our character.
Hiding sin from trusted peers enslaves us to our image. It justifies our self-hatred or depression or loathing of others as we project our sin onto them.
Repentance must be two-directional:
- We must confess to God, first and foremost. Implied in this is the fact we've acknowledged the sin to ourselves. 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, He will forgive us. Therefore, we know we are clean. Still, guilt cloys. We need to get rid of its stench.
- We must confess to others. This doesn't mean we tell any old person even if that person is a devout believer. I made the mistake of confessing a boredom with my Bible reading to a Bible study group. Within days, I received a nasty letter from one member questioning my salvation. It did nothing for my self-esteem. However, we all have, or should work to have, a trusted friend or spouse or family member with whom we can confide. We should belong to a church with a loving pastor.
- They can give us insight to the reason for our guilt.
- Their continued love reassures us we're treasured just as we are.
- We discover our perfect compatriots are as sullied as us.