James (the half-brother of Jesus) led an underground revolution in the city of Ephesus. He was known for outlandish behavior, violent love, and an incomprehensible devotion to prayer. In one of his letters to the followers of the Way, he encouraged the Church to "... confess your sins one to another, that you may be healed."
Because somewhere in the gasp of unholy revelations, chains were dismantled! A mysterious phenomenon had begun to surface whenever the Family came together for worship: in the sacramental act of walking in the Light of confession and repentance, healings (both internal and external) were being made manifest. Headaches were alleviated, chest pain subsided, blind eyes were being made to see the deaf ears now leaning in to hear horrible confessions of sin.
And in the process of opening up about personal sin, individuals who dared to be fully transparent were liberated and healed! They would gather and sing and share and laugh and cry and break bread and drink the cup and remember the One who has come to the rescue of the cosmos.
But however romantic these notions remain, they have not been my experience in the Church today. Instead, my journey has led me to a reinforced belief that it's safer to remain hidden. Or at least, it feels that way. It's as if the ancient tradition has been crossed out and rewritten:
"Confess your sins one to another, that you might be
In a recent debate on an video series called The Elephant Room, several evangelical church leaders met to discuss the issue of church discipline and the restoration of a fallen brother. Most of the voices of revered pulpiteers had collectively agreed that a fallen sinner can experience restoration (after confession and repentance) but that they would systematically be forced from future positions of leadership, and removed (another word for banished) from the Church Family, permanently. They would be recommended to another church, but not the Family in which they had previously been engaged.
And while the rest of the congregation watches our exhaustive hypocrisy, the image is reinforced in the public shaming of a fellow sinner being sent into exile (even after confessing the sin and repenting of the same!). Heck no, if this is what happens when you are discovered to be immoral, addicted, impure, or broken - this is not a safe place to walk in the light!
I dream of the day when all will be restored and reconciled in the healing of the Nations, the healing of my country, the healing of my city, the healing of my church, and the healing of my own heart.
Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.