Is confession really necessary?

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Is confession really necessary


“If we have grace and eternal life, why do we still need to confess our sins in church?” – ELCA Facebook follower

Brian: Because as those created “in the image of God,” relationship is part of our very identity. And people in relationship, even very forgiving relationships, rely on honesty and apology and reconciliation to sustain and deepen those relationships. Confession and the proclamation of forgiveness aren’t something God requires per se but something required of us by our very nature as God’s people and required by the nature of relationship.

We wait for that day in the reign of God when all things will be made new and the need to confess our sins will be a moot point. In that day, we will know and accept ourselves to be creatures, not God, and be satisfied. Until that time, however, we human beings have a deep propensity for being self-willed and self-centered. We do not love God, first and foremost, nor do we generally love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Even though God’s grace has been poured out in love for us on the cross and redeemed us for life eternal, we are still in need of forgiveness for the sins – known and unknown – that we daily commit. It is good to confess our sins and to hear the word of God’s promise of forgiveness that strengthens us to amend our lives now and into the future.

I serve a congregation where when I look out and I see the people who are gathered, I see people of differing racial, ethnic and social backgrounds and sexual orientations. When I look into the faces of my congregation, I imagine all the ways we do not cross paths and are not in relationship because of our brokenness. So I cherish the moment when we begin our service with the order of confessing of our sins.

The confession of our sins reminds us that we do not come to God as we ought to, but we come together as we are able. It connects to the time later in the service when we pass the peace and we reconcile with one another before we go to the altar to receive the very presence of God in the bread and wine. I believe it is good and healthy to confess brokenness, not as a price that we are to pay but as an acknowledgement of the reality in which we live. We need God and we need one another. In the confession of our sins, we all begin at ground zero, but by the grace of God we do not stay there.

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