One night in the barn people started confessing. There was no request that had gone forth for confession; no teaching emphasis on the subject; no testimony highlighting it; and no pressure. It simply began to flow.
The First One: I feel I must confess that it has been years since I have practiced the Presence of the Lord with others
Another: I need to confess I'm using foul language again after years of it being gone
Another: I need to confess the same thing
Another: I confess that I am full of pride
Another: I confess that I am full of anxiety
Another: I confess that I struggle with fear all the time
Another: I confess I'm angry at God
Confession does not inform God of anything. He already knows and is ready to extend grace and forgiveness. But public confession informs ourselves and others that we are ready to deal openly and honestly with those things that hinder us from loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. When we speak and name our sins, we take the final step in owning their existence. We are acknowledging that though they are real, we are resolved to no longer remain comfortable with them being present. Because the curse of sin is broken, we will fully avail ourselves to the power of God at work in us to be victorious.
The forgiveness of sin that God grants us is not dependent on public confession. But when we confess openly to a group of brothers and sisters in Christ, there is an "All In" quality to our confession that is not present in personal confession. Public declaration invites others to love us, pray for us, and keep us accountable - three gifts that we desperately need. Personal confession triggers forgiveness from God, but it does not trigger fellowship with others. It actually keeps us in spiritual isolation.
The opposite of community is not being alone. It's being with others but remaining silent. The benefits and transformative power of God in community is experienced in transparency not guardedness. This is why someone can be around people but still feel isolated or lonely.
The rustic barn in which we gather every Wednesday evening has become a safe space for confession. It does not happen every week but often. If you study revivals, one of the common elements is an intense awareness of unrighteousness with subsequent confession. Who knows all that God is going to unfold and display as we faithfully practice His Presence together weekly in the barn? But this one thing is known: Confession is a precursor for all kinds of new demonstrations of the Spirit of the Living God.
If you want to pray with us in the barn, contact me at 804.239.0032 or email@example.com.